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How women in MENA are taking on the status quo – and winning

People all across the MENA region take pride in their culture and the values they have inherited from older generations. Perhaps the most defining characteristic of Arab society is the close-knit family ties that shape every aspect of people’s lives – these have fostered a society that is extremely community-oriented. But for women in MENA, this dynamic is much more complex. Being part of a conservative and collective culture means that in many cases women are expected to adhere to the outdated stereotype of the traditional Arabian woman; merely adapting to fit the changing roles they are meant to assume as they grow older. As a child she is expected to be obedient and well-behaved – she learns that she should be soft-spoken around people, and that she should always dress conservatively. She also learns about taboos such as mixing with males in the workplace or in public. These restrictions guide her through life, all the way to adulthood until she becomes old enough to fulfill her ultimate goal in life: starting a family. This is especially true in the case of older generations who grew up at a time when it was more difficult to challenge the status-quo, which exists to this day in more rural and conservative societies in which traditions are extremely revered. As a result, many have embraced this way of life with ironclad determination to offer their families the best life possible. Ultimately, her household becomes her kingdom and her influence in matters of the home is unparalleled.

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