One Stride at a Time Women Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling in the Mena Region

“When a woman succeeds, she reaches out to those around her and pulls them up with her. That is why if you empower a woman, you empower a whole society.”- Queen Rania of Jordan

 Women in the MENA region have been making strides in leadership positions, often breaking through the glass ceiling, and increasing their representation at different decision-making levels. This forward-thinking approach has been a catalyst in women-led businesses, empowering a generation of young minds to embrace diversity and equity in the workplace. Additionally, it aligns with the mission driving the Royal University for Women (RUW) in Bahrain, which is to create the next generations of female leaders locally and globally through research-informed, stakeholder-engaged, quality education, where a student-centred approach to teaching is invaluable to the overall institutional advancement.

As a Fulbright U.S. Scholar, I’m fortunate to be working alongside distinguished faculty and dedicated students at RUW who are eager to learn and advance their future careers. I chose The Kingdom of Bahrain, and more specifically the Royal University for Women, to enrich my teaching and research through a program that fosters cultural exchange among diverse communities.

Bahrain has shown notable advancements in its investment in women’s education, a movement that has contributed to ensuring that women are being represented in various fields. For instance, launched by Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Wife of His Majesty the King and President of the Supreme Council for Women in 2008, the first Bahraini Women’s Day (December 1st) held under the theme “She read…She learned…She contributed,” which celebrates 80 years since the start of formal education for women in the Kingdom, is evidence of a society that values female contributions and ensures that women acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate through complex issues and find new paths for contributing to political, economic, and social challenges.

At RUW, I’m currently teaching Women Across Cultures; a course that focuses on contemporary women’s issues from comparative perspectives, ways women have contributed to socioeconomic developments, inequities in opportunities for women, and institutional structures that impact the lives of women and men alike. This course also intersects with my newly edited book (in progress) titled: A Cross-Cultural Examination of Women in Higher Education and the Workplace, which aims to provide relevant theoretical frameworks and empirical findings in women’s advancement and representation in global societies.

The book’s objective is timely in that, while it focuses on worldwide notable progressions of women in the 21st Century, it stresses that there is still room to counter women’s disproportionate numbers compared with their male counterparts. As such, author contributions will focus on highlighting the progression of women in higher education and the workplace from various dimensions and across cultures, while also reflecting on policies that may have contributed to their marginalization. I look forward to a fruitful year of teaching, research, and community service.

About the Author:

Dr. Reem A. Abu-Lughod is a faculty member at the Royal University for Women, Bahrain and a Fulbright US Scholar.


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