Current Debate

Women, Civil Society and Leadership in a New Arab World

DATE & TIME: 18 December, 2011 / 06:30 PM
VENUE: Dubai Knowledge Village, Auditorium

In cooperation with Vital Voices Global Partnership, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and CNN International, Dubai Debates presents its fourth edition on the topic Women, Civil Society and Leadership in the New Arab World. The panel event will bring together some of the Arab world's foremost women leaders on 18 December 2011, at the Dubai Knowledge Village Auditorium.

The Arab world is going through an historic period of change. Across the region, citizens are demanding reforms, transparent governance, and a say in their destinies. At the forefront of change in many Arab countries have been women, who are demonstrating in large numbers along their male compatriots for a better future. But is that really the case? What was the actual extent of Arab women's involvement in the uprisings?

Many are now demanding that women be granted more political rights in the emerging new Arab order. But despite the optimism, politics remains a largely male domain across the region. Not a single Arab country has ever had a female head of state and there are very few women ministers or members of parliament. How can this change in the future? Should Arab nations consider quotas for women in politics?

Similarly, there is a striking lack of women in business and leadership positions. Aside from some notable exceptions, such as the United Arab Emirates, Arab women play a marginal role in entrepreneurship and business in Arab countries. Will political developments in the region be reflected in economic life on the ground, so that Arab women will one day enjoy equal opportunities in economic life?

All this begs a broader question: Is there a universal notion of equality between women and men? Can Western models of gender equality and women's rights be applied to the Arab world? Or do they need to be adapted to take into consideration the region's traditions?

Finally, how much will depend on the legal foundations that the fledging democracies in the region will adopt? Should women's rights be constitutionally guaranteed and if so, what does that entail exactly? Will legal changes be a catalyst for social change?

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We look forward to seeing you at Dubai Debates 4.


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