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Vogue Arabia sheds light on Women empowerment in the Arab world

How can one of the most lavish dinner gala’s in the MENA region bring a positive impact on the world?

Vogue Arabia and Tiffany & Co. take initiatives in partnership with the UNICEF for a great cause!

It might not be the first time that Vogue Arabia hosted a gala before – as it has hosted many dinner galas such as the infamous annual Met Gala and many others. But what is quite unusual this time is that Vogue has spun its focus to the MENA region.  

Taking place on the 7th of December,  a charitable dinner gala was held in Burj Arab gathering up many A-lists celebrities from around the world, mostly of  Middle-Eastern roots, to attend the silent auction followed by a dazzling performance by Ciara. The silent auction will help raise funds for the Girls Education and Empowerment program in Jordan. The main purpose of this program is to encourage women to improve their skills and career prospects in the fields of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. This 12-week program offered will encourage vulnerable women (between the age of 14 to 24) to become female leaders of tomorrow. It will be funded by donations received from the Ball of Arabia gala, with the proceeds helping cover the training expenses and any other necessities.

“We are incredibly delighted to launch the Ball of Arabia, a glamorous annual event to close the year’s social calendar. Committing to a noble cause has always been a passion of mine and to combine it with another passion, fashion, is a real honor , as well as being pioneering in the region”, Vogue Arabia editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut explains

Personally, I am really interested in this event, not just because I come from Jordan, but it is because, to put this in the simplest terms, female empowerment is still needed in Jordan. This is not to say that Jordan has not made any progress in regards to this issue, as women are already highly presented in Jordanian society, from parliaments to the media. Not to mention, Queen Rania has put all her efforts into encouraging education so that everyone must attend high school until they turn 16. But despite that, there are still 100,000 children out of school – Jordanians and non-Jordanians (refugees) alike.

But what is still truly missing in my culture is empowering women to get out from their comfort zone. I’d like to emphasize that from where I am coming from, it might be difficult persuading  Arab parents about studying abroad at the age of 18. However, I was blessed to be raised in an open-minded family where regardless of the child’s gender, it is acceptable for them to study abroad. It might seem very normal but it is a privilege. If we go back to my culture, even today, because of social norms and cultural traditions, it is somehow unfavourable for a girl to study abroad. Why is that so? Boys are always given more responsibilities than girls at an early age in order to prepare them for life, but indeed, it is discouraging young girls from standing up in society and developing a strong character. Some conservative families prefer not to give this kind of responsibility and risk to their daughter, worrying about how she’ll be able to manage her life abroad, but everything is quite “manageable” for their son to handle. They should start changing their perception because their current one only serves to eliminate all the opportunities that could help women build up in their career. My intention is to state that women, especially my age, should be given the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone in order to develop their capabilities, restricting them with fewer options won’t help them and in fact, it will discourage them to think outside of the box.

Even though Jordan has succeeded to become one of the most modern countries in the Middle East, in comparison with the Western world, there is still some work needed to tackle these traditions that are only holding women back and not in front of the line with men. These minor flaws in the Jordanian society might seem a bit insignificant because it is unnoticeable but it all adds up to the whole economy of the country. What Jordanian women really need is some encouragement and a push because without taking the risk and being brave, there will be no development.

So on the surface of this topic, giving equal opportunity to both men and women is very important, especially in Jordan, because women make up three-quarters of the Jordanian society. In this climate, it is the right time to shine the light on the empowerment of women. An entire generation of women out there still have aspiration and a will to build a better future for their country. Without encouragement for growing talent and building new capabilities, Jordan will degrade and will not develop like any other country in the world.

By Malak Albaw

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