IWD in the Middle East: 'equality is a work in progress'

As International Women's Day (IWD) was celebrated last week, women across the Middle East marketing and comms market say progress has even made - but more needs to be done before we see a balanced industry


On 8 March each year, IWD is marked to commemorate the movement for women's rights.

To mark the 2020 edition, which this year is under the theme “I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights”, PRWeek Middle East asked women working in PR and communications to give their perspective on what International Women's Day signifies to them - and what it means to be female in the Middle Eastern communications industry.

Lucy d’Abo, director of client services for H+K Strategies METIA, said she is proud to be a women in the region - but would like to see more women in leadership.

“I have worked in the Middle East region for almost 20 years and I’ve seen the Communications industry evolve beyond all recognition. We are working in a region that is dynamic, inspiring, challenging, agile and above all, changing at a pace unlike many other regions in the world.

"I’m proud to be a part of telling these stories and I’m proud to be a woman doing that here. As an entrepreneur and now as an employee, I know I’m privileged to have always been recognised for my work and contributions, not because I’m a woman, but because of what I’ve done.

"I know that isn’t the same for all my peers within the industry. That is what matters most to me – that it isn’t about your gender but about what you do and the impact we have. I want to see more senior female role models inspiring our future leaders to work towards a more fair and balanced gender representation across our industry.

"As chair of Global Women in PR MENA, I’m committed to being an active part of helping effect change through education, connecting people, mentoring and ultimately sharing success stories to elevate ourselves.

"That is what International Women’s Day means to me – #eachforequal."

For Loretta Ahmed, founder and CEO of Houbara communications firm, IWD is about marking progress - but striving for better equality.

"International Women’s Day has always been about celebrating progress towards driving gender parity, and sure, we’re making good progress. But in the wake of the #MeToo movement, it feels to me that we still have a long way to go.

"So IWD feels like it is now more than ever about giving women a voice to call out inequality.

"When women speak up, things happen: whether you’re a mother, a teacher, a CEO or a student. you have a voice.

"Use it wisely, use it to participate, use it to define who we are and how we want the world to be. We’re getting there thanks to all the women who have done that before us. #EachForEqual #IWD2020.”

Louise Jacobson, managing partner of Brazen PR, said: "“Being a woman working in PR in this region is one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had. The UAE champions and cherishes women in leadership in all sectors, especially our industry.

"I’m lucky and privileged to work with some trailblazing women, from clients, peers and mentors to team members. We’re empowered to be bold and brave with our ideas and actions and really make a difference.

"Happy International Women’s Day to all women, and thank you to this region for having me.”

Camilla D'Abo, MD of APCO Worldwide Dubai, added: "The topic of women and equality is perennial. While it is especially relevant today, it has been evolving for decades. It will continue to be a discussion as our understanding of each other evolves.

"We want to help perpetuate the conversation. You should be able to do something small, yet significant – in your own capacity – to make an impact on the lives of the people you interact and work with."

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To submit a news, comment, case study or analysis idea for the Middle East bulletin, email Jennifer.Bell@haymarket.com

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