Guest Post by Nada Hamzeh, E-Mediat country Director, Lebanon
I was more than glad to participate in The Arab Women Summit in Rabat, Morocco on December 6th and 7th. The Summit highlighted use of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) by Arab women, improving their education in ICT and giving them the opportunity to contribute to their country’s economy. The Summit was organized by IDC MEA in partnership with ISESCO and in collaboration with UNDP, UN Women, the World Bank, Intel, Dell, ESCWA, ECWT and Mohammed VI Foundation.
I shared E-Mediat experience with highly enthusiastic women coming not only from Arab countries but from all over the world to talk about the need of Arab women to be given the same access to technology as men. Currently a variety of educational, accessibility, cost and social barriers limit the use of ICT by women in the Arab countries.
Gender equity, role of Arab women, digital illiteracy, capacity building, entrepreneurship and social media were the main topics of the summit. These themes were discussed in the wider context of emerging regional needs and challenges such as education, governance, and other phenomena that are inhibiting the betterment of women’s interests across the Arab region.
It was a good opportunity to meet and listen to Mouna el Ayoubi and Saida Bouhmidi, mentees for TechWomen 2011 in Morocco. History and success of the Women in Technology (WIT) program was inspiring. The video of the success story of WIT beneficiaries was highly moving.
I participated in the panel entitled: “Social Media in the Arab Women’s life” that caught the attention of the audience who wanted to learn more about social media. My speech focused on breaking the fear that women have for technology and social media in particular. I highlighted the benefit of social media for women-centric campaigns like defending women’s rights or aspiring women entrepreneur. The presentation ended with a video of an E-Mediat participant NGO that helped make changes in Lebanese government laws and also helped women entrepreneur to market their business by using social media.
The panel was moderated by Mirna Barbar UN- Escwa and included some interesting presentations. It started with Racha Mourtada from Dubai School of Government who shared the statistics of the 3rd Arab Social Media Report. Ayman Itani, Strategic Advisor for E-Mediat Lebanon talked about Arab women voice via social media. In the final presentation, Dimitris Raftopoulos, Head of strategic leadership at Life Long Research Institute introduced and explained a variety of social media tools.
The audience was very interested in learning more about social media and moving up the social media learning curve. The conference was a great opportunity to interact with Widad El Hanafi, Program Director in Morocco and supplement our online networking with offline exchanges. For me, the high points of the Summit were the TechWomen and E-Mediat panels.