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Dispelling myths, correcting misperceptions Queen hails Arab women.

... AMMAN (Star)--Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah commended Jordanian and Arab women at the International Women's Forum (IWF) cornerstone conference on Wednesday. "You are some of the Arab world's finest ambassadors," she said to the largest ever IWF gathering, "As you go about your daily meetings, your international phone-calls, and your global travel, you are dispelling myths, correcting misperceptions, and showcasing the multifaceted realities of Arab women."Together, you are establishing new standards for what it means to be empowered Arab women," she said. The Queen highlighted much of the recent progress that women have achieved in the Arab world. Citing a recent survey on Arab women in the workforce, Her Majesty noted that women "are increasingly optimistic about their role in the workplace, and increasingly willing to take responsibility for their own professional advancement".The Queen continued, "The labor-force landscape is changing. Women in the Middle East are moving into the workplace in larger numbers than ever before, and into more senior positions," and added, "Of course, many of the old obstacles still exist, and I do not want to pretend otherwise. We have a long way to go in changing cultural mindsets; in convincing society that we can be wives, mothers and career-women; in promoting gender-friendly legislation; in getting more women into parliament and decision-making roles; and in keeping girls in the workforce after university."Her Majesty's remarks were followed by a panel session entitled "Arab Women: Myths, Misperceptions and Realities". Panelists included Leila Ahmad, Harvard Divinity School; Victor S. Thomas, professor of Divinity; Katerina Dalacoura, an expert on international relations and the Middle East; Laila Abu Hassan, University of Jordan, chairperson, Department of Physics; and Rima Khalaf, chairperson of the Advisory Board of the Arab Human Development Report (AHDR).-The panelists discussed many of the myths and misperceptions facing Arab women, but noted that progress is being made and the potential for better results is on the horizon. "I'm hopeful for the future because of the enormous efforts and abilities of the new Arab young, and because despite the prevalence of myths, there's a spirit of willingness at the grassroots [in the West] to reach out, and hear the Arab side," said Ahmad. The conference's session included also topics on Islam, Democracy, and Modernization; Faith, Identity and Coexistence; Education, Culture and Competitiveness; Arab Women Parliamentarians and complications of relation between East and West, the Future of the Arab World; and a look to the Future. The IWF gathering, which was convened on Monday under the Patronage of HM Queen Rania, the honorary president of the International Women Forum-Jordan, brought together nearly 500 women from 32 countries under the theme "Building Bridges - Breaking Walls".The three-day conference, organized by the International Women's Forum (IWF) for the first time in an Arab country, aims at developing the feminine leaderships and activating dialogue in addition to changing the negative stereotype linked to women in the Arab and Western worlds.Gay Cook, head of the Washington-based global organization described the conference as a notable event for the 25-year --old organization, since Jordan embraces the first and only forum in the Arab World "It is an important opportunity for IWF members to share with their Arab sisters their concerns and challenges and to find a better understanding for each other's issues," she said.Building bridges of understanding to enhance the prospects of a more sustainable future, and Breaking Walls of silence and doubts to engage in a dialogue, and convey the true image of the conflicts and challenges facing us in our part of the world clarified Reem Abu Hassan president of the International Women's Forum-Jordan, the theme of the conference.IWF-Jordan was founded in 2003 as an independent association of women who have achieved valuable accomplishments in public life, private sector or civic society in the aim of being a catalyst in the acceleration of the proactive participation of Jordanian women in their own communities.The IWF was first established Washington in 1982 to facilitate networking among women and to promote opportunities for women in leadership. It also leverages global access and maximizes opportunities for women to exert their influence. nDispelling myths, correcting misperceptions Queen hails Arab women

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:May 22, 2007
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