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Drafting a New Story: Women's Rights in the Middle East

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We are proud to announce that AIC’s Dalia Ziada, Director of the North Africa Bureau in Cairo, Egypt, has just returned home from Monaco where she accepted her award for excellence in Online Media.  Her winning article, “A Space for Unveiling the Minds of Young Muslim Women,” was originally featured last November on Bikya Masr.  The article speaks to the ability for women to “unveil” themselves–intellectually, at least–on the Internet, where they can be treated as equals, without fears of the physical or verbal harassments that runs rampant on the streets of Egypt.

Below is an excerpt from the article:

Even in the street and work place, young women are always looked upon as the sexual objects that men always desire to verbally or physically harass. What doubles the misery is that the society holds women – the victim – accountable for what the man does and blames her for being a “woman” who dared to walk in the site of men and must stomach the dire consequences of being professionally ambitious.

But online, in the virtual world, on the World Wide Web, the story is completely different. Thanks to the Internet, young women in the Middle East have proven to their patriarchal societies that they are equal active minds and not only beautiful bodies or passive properties of men.

Online, I am the woman I always wanted to be: I can “virtually” dress the way I want. I can “virtually” walk in the “web-sites” men walk without fear of being physically or verbally harassed. I can “virtually” challenge a “male” mind in an online chess game and win. I can “virtually” discuss critical, political, and social topics and my opinion is respected regardless of my gender. Online, I am enjoying the freedom I always wanted to have in my real life. Online, I am not the “beautiful body” any more, I am the “active mind” that people respect and follow.

Check out the complete version of Ziada’s article at Bikya Masr or on her blog.

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