On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2021, POMED is pleased to highlight five short articles on different dimensions of the struggle for women’s rights in the Arab world and Turkey. POMED commends all women (and men) in these countries and across the region who are fighting for women’s rights against huge odds and often at great personal risk.


IKRAM ADNANI of Morocco describes the continuing problem of the very low rate of women’s political participation in the Arab region.

Recent years have seen greater recognition that women’s political participation is important to development in the Arab world. There is also increasing public awareness of the need to guarantee fair rights for women, especially in the majority of Arab countries that have already ratified international treaties and conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

As the issue of women’s rights has imposed itself on national agendas in the Arab region, women’s demands have been transformed into real, actionable laws in several countries. Yet improving the status of women remains an urgent matter that demands concerted efforts from all parts of society, especially in light of the various crises through which we are living today. Continue reading here. >>

HIBA BALAHA of Jordan laments her country’s failure to prevent ‘honor’ crimes and other gender-based violence.

On the morning of Saturday, July 18, 2020, Jordanians awoke to news of a horrific murder. A man killed his daughter, Ahlam, by smashing her head with a concrete block in plain view on a public street, then sat beside her body, smoking a cigarette and drinking a cup of tea. This news was reported by eyewitnesses and could be seen in video footage circulating on social media, in which viewers could hear Ahlam’s resounding screams. Witnesses also claimed that Ahlam’s brothers had prevented anyone from coming to her aid.

Ahlam was not the first, and will not be the last, victim of gender-based violence in Jordan. Women in our societies will continue to be second-class citizens as long as society is silent and in denial, family protection is overlooked, and there is no law deterring such crimes. Continue reading here. >>

KARIMI BRINI of Tunisia explained last June how the pandemic has particularly hurt women there.

…The crisis has had a disproportionate impact on women. For example, when the courts were closed, women who are separated from their husbands could not get official divorces and thus could not claim their social benefits or child support payments. The government’s economic stimulus package barely covers basic necessities—it is not enough for female-heads of households to provide for their families. The government needs to direct more resources toward women. Continue reading here. >>

LINA AL-HATHLOUL of Saudi Arabia wrote last May about the unjust imprisonment of her sister Loujain, who has fortunately since been released on probation, but is “far from the only one suffering.”

…By now, Loujain’s face has been published all over the world and her story has been told by many. She is held up as a symbol of resistance to an oppressive regime and as a defender of women’s rights in particular. Before her arrest, Loujain’s prominence as a human rights advocate was growing. As one of the leaders of the Women to Drive campaign and the End of Guardianship campaign, she helped pave the way for the much-needed social reforms that we finally have seen happen in our country. Continue reading here. >>

MERVE TAHIROĞLUPOMED’s Turkey Program Coordinator, called attention in November to the shocking incidents of femicides and other violence against women in her home country of Turkey.

…Turkey has an appalling rate of violence against women. At least 40 percent of Turkish women experience violence throughout their lives. In 2019, more than 440 women were murdered as a result of domestic violence—the highest number in a decade. Nearly 400 have been killed this year. Ninety percent of femicides recorded between 2008 and 2017 were committed by the victims’ husbands, former husbands, boyfriends, or relatives. Perpetrators cite jealousy, rejection, or requests for divorce to justify their violence. Just this Monday, a man in Nevşehir reportedly placed a bomb in his girlfriend’s home after she tried to break up with him. Continue reading here. >>