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Arab Women Media Forum: Working papers

posted on 03/02/2002: 1723 views

Deliberations on issues of Arab women and the media began yesterday at the Abu Dhabi Intercontinental Hotel with the participants underlining the need to change the conventional stereotypes of women in the media. Dr Jabir Asfour, member of the National Council for Women in Egypt stressed the central role played by the mass media in the formulation of public opinion and noted that it was natural for the media to contribute to public perception of women in negative and positive ways. He pointed out that although the media played a positive role in perpetuating and reinforcing the image of women as equal to men with equal potential, its role could not be fully realised unless national policies in individual countries were conducive to the advancement of women and to a system of equal opportunities.

Dr Kafia Ramadan from Kuwait University in her presentation on "Image of women in Kuwaiti media", gave a review of the historical development of media in Kuwait and noted that women were active in media work right from the emergence of the press in the country. She also highlighted the significant contribution of Kuwaiti women in television broadcasting, technical and programming sectors. Abdul Hafiz Al Hirqam, director general of the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) presented a paper on "Image of Arab women in broadcast media".

She noted that women's organisations were behind the drive for public debates on women's issues as part of their concern about improving the image of women in Arab broadcast and interactive media. The trend, she observed had elevated women's issues to a high standing on national public agendas in Arab countries. Malika Malik from Morocco in her presentation on "Arab women between modernity and media obstacles" noted that social and cultural conditions in the Arab world were always in a state of transition. She observed that Morocco was experiencing accelerating democratic changes which presented the society with diverse challenges in the march for economic, social, cultural and political development.

In this context, women's issues seemed to reflect negative realities which had to be addressed to reinforce developmental achievements. Suad Bakkour Bint Salim from the Syrian National Federation for Women noted that men and women constituted the backbone of life and the media should be harnessed to serve social interests and promote equal opportunities between both. She pointed out that it was difficult to isolate the image of women in the media from the existing social realities and moves contravening notions of equal opportunities should be documented by the media. Negative images of women in the media should also be monitored and analysed. She also reviewed the role of Syrian women in government and private sector media as well as in the media supervised by the Women's Federation. She stressed that the media should fight all discrimination against women in order to empower their constructive role in society. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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