Empowering Young Women in the ME(by Ms. Natascha Schellen)

Although I’m German/Austrian, English and Arabic are more familiar to me. I spent almost 20 years in Lebanon– a dual cultural experience. I feel very close to the Lebanese culture. This has inspired me in many ways. I am now doing an MBA with a focus in NGO management. I'm particularly interested in women empowerment. I really believe that if we have more women leadership (nothing against men!), we can find peace sooner. This is my image of Arab Women – strong! What the media shows is often skewed, and misrepresents who we are.

It’s a black and white image. that tries to put women in one box. In Lebanon, a small nation of 4 million people there is o much diversity. We can’t simplify this way. In Lebanon women are very active – they are out on the streets, protesting for rights; they are interested and invested in their future; they care about their country.

When men leave due to lack of job opportunities, the women stay behind. This can of course be for a number

of reasons from the need to take care of the home, or because there are sometimes less opportunity for them to leave. However, there is a lot of momentum with women being engaged. We are also seeing a rise of women education. Women make up 54% of university students but 26% of labour force. This is a big improvement, but there is large room for growth. This isn't just a Lebanese issue. We see inequality of pay. It is indeed getting better, but it is still a huge global issue. We also see women as examples, raising up the next generation. I recently worked as a journalist. We made an effort to focus on women and their careers, and singled out CEOs in order to show them as examples. As for WFWP, it is active in 4 countries.

WFWP Lebanon: Ketermaya Public School near refugee camps. Through donations it has helped refurnish the school library, and is currently focusing on organising book drives to fill it. WFWP Jordan: vocational skills,youth and character education through drama. WFWP Cyprus:
20th annual WFWP ME. A gratitude poster from children in Gaza who receive support from WFWP, was presented during that conference.

Ms. Natascha Schellen, MBA Student, WFWP Middle East
WFWP Europe Annual Conference: November 18-20, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia

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