Courses and seminars

Index / Activities / Courses and seminars / Women leadership and participation in Arab countries

Women leadership and participation in Arab countries

From April 23, 2018 until May 08, 2018From 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Casa Árabe Auditorium (at Calle Alcalá, 62). From 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Free entry after registering.
Register by completing this form.
In English.

Casa Árabe will bring to its Madrid headquarters a group of six women with different experiences to engage in a fruitful dialogue between themselves and with Spanish and European peers.

The changes sweeping across the region since 2010 have presented opportunities to advance gender equality but also severe risks of regression. Many governments in the MENA region have signed and ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), but all have entered reservations to various articles in the treaty. In the domestic sphere, some countries’ constitutions do not provide for the principle of equality between men and women. At the same time, a gap between laws and practices remains a stark reality across the region. Therefore, even when legal change for gender equality is achieved, these norms may not be translated into the conduct of everyday life, often due to embedded cultural practices and dated interpretations of Islamic precepts.

In 2013, the World Bank published Opening Doors: Gender Equality in the Middle East and North Africa, a report designed to identify priority areas where policy actions could further gender equality. Echoing a global trend, women in the Arab world outnumber men in pursuing university degrees. Nonetheless, three out of four Arab women remain outside of the labor force.

Similarly, the 2016 Global Gender Gap Index measured progress on gender equality in economic participation, education, political participation, and health. According to this index, MENA countries as a group have the largest gender gap of any region, nearly 40%. So even if jobs are created, targeted efforts are needed on multiple fronts to increase women’s participation in the economic and political spheres, and these efforts must be specific to each country’s context. These include changes in policies to secure women’s equality under the law, addressing skills deficits and mismatches and actively promoting women’s economic, civic and political participation.

It is true that political transitions in the region have created opportunities for quotas to be included in new constitutions and electoral laws, and in several of these countries, women are serving in transition governments and as cabinet ministers for the first time. However, civil society organizations have been largely excluded from political negotiations, despite the fact that they are often more familiar with the situation on the ground and the needs of the population. The realm of politics has been considered as one of the most challenging spheres of the public life for women to enter and their participation in parliament is crucial for fair representation of women in society

With the security situation in many states across the MENA region deteriorating, and with the return of authoritarianism in recent years, what are the mechanisms left to improve the gender imbalance? How can legal changes, economic participation and social leverage be promoted by women leaders? How are new forms of political participation found in other non-traditional activities? How has representation of women evolved in the public sphere and other spaces of communication? Casa Árabe will bring to its Madrid headquarters a group of six women with different experiences to engage in a fruitful dialogue between themselves and with Spanish and European peers.

The seminar will be directed at experts, activists and NGOs on women’s issues and will be held in English.
Women leadership and participation in Arab countries
(all interventions will be in English)

09:30 Opening
Pedro Martínez-Avial, Director General, Casa Árabe


Arab feminisms, islam and civil society. Asma Lamrabet, doctor and former director of the Women Center of Feminine studies in Rabat. (tbc)

Human rights and advocacy for gender equality. Nada Nashat, Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance.

Women’s empowerment in public institutions. Hania Helweh, Judge, President of the Civil Court, Lebanon.

Moderator: Tamara El Khoury, Club de Madrid


Coffee break


Women representations in art and media. Manal Al Dowayan, independent Saudi artist.

Sexual rights and the fight for diversity. Rauda Morcos, MantiQitna.

Gender imbalance and economic development. Faten Kallel, former Tunisian Minister of Youth and Sports.

Moderator: Cristina Manzano, esglobal


14:00 Lunch

19:00-20:30 Public conference. The struggle for women sociopolitical participation in MENA countries.

The seminar will be directed at experts, activists and NGOs on women’s issues and will be held in English.

The conference is aimed at a wider public and will have simultaneous translation.
Laila Alodaat is a human rights lawyer specialising in international law of armed conflicts and the human rights of women. During her practice, she focused on accountability for international crimes and the responsibility to protect. She holds a BA in Law, LLM in Human Rights, Conflict and Justice from SOAS and is a qualified trainer of international humanitarian law. Laila has worked on several conflict situations including Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Pakistan and is currently the Crisis Response Programme Manager at the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

Manal Al Dowayan’s work encompasses black and white photography, sculpture, video, sound, neon and large-scale participatory installations. Her artistic practice revolves around themes of active forgetting, archives, and collective memory, with a large focus on the state of Saudi women and their representation. Her participatory projects have attracted hundreds of women to use art as a new platform to address social injustice like Tree of Guardians, Esmi-My Name, and Suspended Together.

Hania Helweh is a judge and the president of the first instance monetarist, commercial and civil status chamber in the north of Lebanon. She is the Ministry of Justice’s focal point for justice for children. She did a training in cyber security studies at the Marshall center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany) and she holds a Masters in Criminal Law from the Lebanese University. She deals directly with women s rights and was a panelist in the regional Women Justice Forum held in Casablanca ,Morocco.

Faten Kallel is an independent Tunisian politician who served as the Secretary of State, Ministry of Youth and Sports (2016-2017). Before joining the government, Faten Kallel was in charge of the Smart Tunisia initiative within the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy. She holds an MBA from the University of Paris-Dauphine. In March 2017, she was selected by the World Economic Forum as Young Global Leader.
Rauda Morcos is a leader and advocate in the Queer, Human Rights and Peacemaking fields since 1993. In 2003, she co-founded Aswat, a Palestinian Queer Women group which she led until 2008. Since 2009 she leads MantiQitna, a network of activists from the MENA region concerned with sexual rights, gender and sexualities. She is the recipient of the 2007 IGLHRC's Felipa de Souza Award. Morcos has a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and a Master in Law and Human Rights Law (LL.M) at the Emile Zola Chair for Human Rights.

Nada Nashat is the Advocacy Coordinator at the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA) based in Cairo, Egypt. She has participated in different international events related to human rights and women's rights such as the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). She is also responsible for conducting different campaigns to promote women and human rights. Previously, Nada was the coordinator of amending the Personal Status Law (PSL) project for the same organization to promote access to justice and eradicate inequalities between genders. Nada graduated in 2011 with bachelors’ degree in physics, and is currently studying law.