Get to Know These 3 Female Empowerment Initiatives in the Middle East

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Skateistan girls
Photo: Courtesy of Skateistan
At the 2015 UAE Government Summit session entitled ‘Arab Women: From Vision to Leadership’, Princess Ameera al-Taweel of Saudi Arabia stated, “In the Arab world’s history, men and women have worked side by side. Behind every great man is a great woman? No. Next to every great man is a great woman.” Echoing this sentiment, in recent years the Middle East has seen a surge of female empowerment initiatives in various fields to improve the lives of women in the region. In this feature, Savoir Flair explores three important non-profit organizations that are helping young women find employment, freedom through alternate transportation, and entry into the challenging world of technology.
1

Skateistan

In Afganistan, where female drivers are rarely seen on the roads, an alternative mode of transportation has been on the rise since 2007, when an Australian by the name of Oliver Percovich first introduced the young women of Kabul to skateboarding. After noticing how the youth of the area took to the street sport, Percovich decided to launch “Skateistan”, an NGO skateboarding initiative that helps young people learn how to skate, build community, and experience the freedom of having their own way of getting around. Since the launch of Skateistan, Percovich has expanded the organization’s reach beyond Afghanistan to include regions of South Africa and Cambodia. Visit Skateistan.com to see how this program is changing the lives of young women in our region and beyond.

2

Glowork

According to a recent study by the U.N., over 52 percent of women graduate from university in Saudi Arabia, but one third of Saudi Arabian women are unemployed, while only six percent of men are unemployed. These shocking numbers have much to do with segregation laws in the country, which means that the highly educated women of the region have tremendous difficulty finding or holding down steady jobs. To remedy this problem, Khalid Alkhudair launched Glowork in 2011, a female-only community that works to empower women and help them find employment by matching them to jobs in sectors that were previously inaccessible to female workers.

3

Girls in Tech

Historically and globally, women are vastly underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields, but there are many who are working to change this. Even top model Karlie Kloss has launched her own coding scholarship to encourage young women to enter tech fields. In the Middle East, Girls in Tech aims at empowering young women to enter these industries, with a chapter in Dubai (as well as other locations around the world). The organization engages young women on multiple levels, offering everything from tech boot camps and “hack-a-thons” to a three-day Girls in Tech Catalyst Conference that showcases women in tech start-ups, keynote speakers from the tech world, and pitch night competitions.

 

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