International Wome's Day is being observed around the world. For more than 100 years, March 8th has been a day to take note of the position of women in society and to celebrate their achiements.
RNW's Arab department marks the day with portraits of 9 women from the Mena region who have made a difference to their societies.
Manal al-Sharif, Saudi Arabia
Manal al-Sharif is a women's rights activist from Saudi Arabia who helped start a ‘women's right to drive campaign’ in 2011. A women's rights activist who had previously filmed herself driving , filmed al-Sharif driving a car as part of the campaign. Driving a car is forbidden for women in Saudi Arabia.
Samira Ibrahim, Egypt
Samira Ibrahim is the woman who put an end to virginity testing for female prisoners in Egypt. She filed a lawsuit against the government last year after being herself arrested and abused. Ibrahim won her case and the practice is now banned.
Shadia Mansour, Palestine/UK
Shadia is one of the few female Arab rappers. Known as the First Lady of Arab hip hop, much of her music tackles Middle East politics and Palestinian issues. “You can take my falafel and hummus, but don’t f***ing touch my keffiyeh,”
Zainah Al-Khawaja, Bahrain
Zainab al-Khawaja is a pro-democracy activist from Bahrain. She was recently sentenced o three months in prison for "insulting and humiliating a public employee." Her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is a prominent opposition figure, currently serving life imprisonment for plotting to overthrow the state.
Razan Ghazzawi, Syria
Razan is a Syrian blogger, campaigner and activist. Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising she has been particularly outspoken on activists’ arrests and the violations of human rights committed by the Bashar al Assad regime. She was called "iconic blogger and leading activist" by British newspaper The Telegraph.
Olfa Youssef, Tunisia
Olfa Youssef is a Tunisian researcher known for her critical approach to Islamic thought. As a prominent intellectual and Islamic scholar, she has spoken out against gender inequality and argued against the use of violence.
Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, Sudan
Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein is a Sudanese Muslim, journalist and feminist activist, highly critical of the regime’s treatment of women. She came to international attention in July 2009 when she was prosecuted wearing trousers.
Najia Adib, Morocco
Najia travels throughout Morocco trying to help children who are sexually, emotionally and physically abused . She ensures that paedophiles and abusers are prosecuted with the help of local lawyers and international pressure.
Amina bent al Moghtar, Mauritania
Amina is the first female prisoner in her country. She was jailed for her activism in support of the abolition of slavery practices in Mauritania.