Women’s rights activists transforming women’s lives in the Arab world

Date: Thursday, March 8, 2018

This year, International Women’s Day focuses onRural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”. The day is an opportunity to celebrate the advocates who are working tirelessly to claim women’s rights and realize their full potential.

Champions of women’s rights from across the Middle East and North Africa are working on a number of fronts to influence policy and generate social change, from founding projects to promote women’s economic empowerment, to highlighting the role of women on peace and security.

On International Women’s Day, we are shining a spotlight on the voices and determined work of these women who have been central to advance women’s rights in the region.


“Financial independence gives us the power of choice and voice. This is why we focus on the economic empowerment of women, by supporting the young entrepreneurs and helping them to start their businesses. When you have financial independence, you can make your own decisions and choose your way.”

Dr. Amani Asfour


International Federation for Business and Professional Women



“Women in countries that suffer from armed conflicts, especially civil wars, need to be given a great deal of help and support. They also need to play a greater role in the peace process.”

Omelz El Farisi

Political Science Teacher

University of Benghazi



“One of the main problems we face in Morocco is the lack of access to education. Illiteracy, as well as poverty in our country, continues to affect women more than men.”

Khadija El Rouggany


Moroccan Association for the Defense of Women's Rights



“I decided to work for women’s rights because, as a woman, I face the issues of women. I experience these issues on a daily basis in my community and in the society.”

Majda Masry


Mother School Society


“What pushed me to work for women’s rights were the discussions we had in college. My (male) classmates would say « In the end, you will have to sit at home and become a housewife. You can get a university degree but you can only become a teacher and that’s it.» I always wondered why, while graduating from the same university, they believed that they had the right to continue their careers, while for me it was OK to just get married.”

                                                                                                    Rim Al Jabi

Gender Expert




“Women are exposed to violence everywhere, especially in poor and marginalized areas. They face not only physical violence but also verbal and moral violence. Many girls are subjected to violence - even I have experienced violence before. This is why I chose to work for women’s rights.”


Sandra Krichen

Gender Innovation AGORA network of UN Women, Arab States



“There are many obstacles that affect women in Yemen. A major issue is the social behaviors, inherited from customs and traditions, that impose restrictions on women.”

                                                                                                Dr. Anjila Sultan El Maamari

Professor of Psychological Health


Islamic Relief Worldwide

“I got involved in women’s rights at a very early age, when I saw inequality within our own communities, in our society. I found out that even as a young girl, boys had more rights than I did.”


Shahin Ashraf

Global Advocacy Advisor

Islamic Relief Worldwide