London — Success. Independence. Strength. These topics were among those discussed at the “Women in the Middle East-Beacon of Change” event, held at the House of Lords July 14.
The purpose of the event was to highlight the contributions of Middle Eastern women internationally.
Bee Magazine, a magazine directed toward Asian women, sponsored the event, and an estimated 50 people attended.
The Magazine started out in Asia and continued in the Middle East, selling in some U.S. cities as well. They also sell in the UK.
Rita Payne, former Asia editor for BBC World T.V, and current chair of the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA), (UK), moderated the event, which included a diverse group of educated and influential women from various backgrounds.
Dr. Amina Wakefield said, “My journey was not easy at all.” She explained that she once tried to attend an event in the Middle East, but because she was a women, she was told that she couldn’t and that she was a liability.
Now, Wakefield is running 13 learning institutions in Saudi Arabia through Cambridge Regional College and is the head of the international office. She said that this discussion is “heartening” to the point that Middle Eastern women have not been forgotten, and that others are trying to help the situation.
Wakefield said she hopes to see more steps toward “improving the quality life” for these women.
Dr. Craig Saucier, a history professor at Southeastern Louisiana University agreed with the panelists that media coverage of Middle Eastern women’s accomplishments is “quite inadequate.”
Saucier also said that he thinks the forum shows “the need for more discussion and more communication” regarding the issue.
Ann O’Connor, one of the panelists at the forum and a graduate student at Southeastern Louisiana University, said, “The contributions of women in Saudi Arabia are very unique.” O’Connor said that the media does not pick up on these contributions. However, she said she believes that media and culture, are obstacles in the successes of women.
Dyria Aloussi, Managing Director of CSM Global LTD, also a panelist, said she thinks there are no restrictions on professions in the United Arab Emirates, as far as women go. Aloussi also said she thinks obstacles facing women in the Middle East are more cultural than anything.
Ru Abbass, an audience member, said she thinks the forum accomplished “Highlighting the issues about the achievements of women” that generally do not get discussed. Abbass believes each panelist gave a rounded view of the topic, yet kept their own perspective making a “nice balance” for the forum. She also said, “I think it’s a step in the right direction, and there need to be more events like this.”
The Bee Magazine holds a quarterly event before publication of each issue.