“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful”, said Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. However, the voice of a woman in the middle-east countries has always been oppressed for over a century and most of the time we can say that it still is. The only difference is, now we know what women deserve and how many of them are still trying to get out of the rubble of gender inequality, especially in the middle-east countries. In a world where there is so much of war, a woman’s voice has the power to change the world in times of despair as well as in times of developments.
In countries like Saudi Arabia, women cannot leave domestic violence shelters, marry or leave prison without the permission of a male guardian. In the month of July 2017, a prominent cleric called for even more modesty, urging the nation’s daughters to avoid “any abaya that has any decoration, no embellishment, no slits, and no openings”. They are not even allowed to change in trial rooms while shopping for clothes. However, recently they gained the right to drive and travel abroad alone without the permission of their guardian.
Only about a dozen years have passed since women in the Arab Gulf nation of Kuwait were granted the right to vote and run for elected office in 2005. However, instead of picking up momentum, the movement for women’s political participation has faltered. Today, Safa AlHashem is the only elected woman in Kuwait’s fifty-member parliament.
According to Valentine Moghadam, director of the Northeastern University’s International Affairs and Middle East Studies programs, women must play a key role in the transition to democracy in the Middle East and northern Africa in order to improve gender equality in the region.
In the month of October 2019, the prime minister of Lebanon submitted his resignation, a move that has been hailed as an important victory for the protestors who have taken to the streets across the country. This revolution saw many women in the frontlines. These women stood as barriers between the army and the demonstrators to protect their male counterparts to defuse tensions and maintain the non-violent nature of the protest. Here women were seen fighting for their country with every other male citizen of the country and showcasing their strength amidst various forms of oppression.
Therefore, the basic conclusion that we can draw from the current happenings in the middle-east countries is that the developments for the eradication of gender inequality in these countries are extremely uneven. We can see the women showcasing their strength and gaining their basic human right and be happy but at the same time suppression of their voice in the form of patriarchy is still widely prevalent. Gender inequality campaigns have always been resisted by entrenched patriarchal and conservative forces. However, we are hoping that the developments we are seeing will soon liberate every woman and grant her the freedom of living free without restrictions. We are hoping to hear the voice of a woman more rather than their silence of oppression.