As the world commemorated International Women’s Day on March 8th, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks marked the event by providing special coverage and programming dedicated to the empowerment of women and increasing gender parity, while highlighting women’s aspirations and the social and political challenges they face in the Middle East and North Africa.
Alhurra news highlighted actions taken by individuals and organizations in the MENA region to create a more gender inclusive society. The newscasts profiled the status of Kuwaiti women who have been heavily discriminated against in the citizenship law. Other reports addressed women’s lack of representation in politics and decision-making roles in Morocco and Algeria. Alhurra’s primetime magazine program Al Youm highlighted women’s achievements, from the political to the social, while focusing on the challenges and fears women encounter to realize their dreams and aspirations. The program explored the role of Yemeni women in providing humanitarian relief to thousands of people impacted by war. Al Youm profiled Nadia Murad, a Yazidi human rights activist, who stressed the active role of Kurdish female fighters against ISIS. It also highlighted the suffering of Syrian women in refugee camps and their strong will to overcome barriers to providing a better future for their children. In addition, Al Youm highlighted women’s social and political struggle to reach equality with men in Libya and Tunisia and their activism to end violence against women in Morocco.
Alhurra’s Eye on Democracy dedicated a segment to International Women’s Day, focusing on the Human Rights Watch report that discussed the horrors Sunni women experienced at the hands of ISIS. The network’s show dedicated to Arab women’s issues, Hunna discussed breaking through the barrier of fear that holds women back and the tragedy of Iraqi women amid violence and discrimination. Gulf Talks, a weekly talk show that examines critical issues facing the Gulf region, dedicated a segment profiling the 14-year old Emirati entrepreneur, Fatima Al Kaabi whose success has become a symbol of women and girls’ empowerment.
Almajalla, an Alhurra documentary program that covers stories from the U.S. of interest to Arab audience, observed International Woman’s Day by interviewing documentarian Paula Kewskin, director of Honor Diaries that tackles the issue of honor crimes and female genital mutilation. Almajalla also interviewed Holly Gordon, the producer of “Girl Rising,” a documentary about the power of women’s education.
Radio Sawa’s Sawa Magazine commemorated International Women’s Day by highlighting key issues of interest to Arab women; such as the participation of Jordanian women in civil society and political life, the potential of women entrepreneurs in Egypt, the plight of Iraqi women and the challenges they are facing amid security concerns, the devastating toll of the conflict in Yemen on women, and the status of women in Tunisia six years after the Jasmine Revolution.
MBN’s Afia Darfur interviewed several female activists about local and international efforts to overcome challenges woman face to fulfill their potential in their communities and their call for equality and political rights.
Online, Alhurra and Radio Sawa’s digital platforms posted reports and stories that acknowledged the progress toward women’s equality in the strictly male-dominated cultures of the Middle East, and also the many steps still needed to obtain equality. Alhurra and Radio Sawa’s websites published stories on the struggle of Kurdish women living in a male-dominant society, Iraqi women’s actions against abusive marriages, and challenges facing women to succeed. The websites also featured an interview profiling Magda Malek, the first Egyptian female pilot to fly a transoceanic commercial aircraft flight.