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WOMEN’S RESOUNDING CALLS FOR EQUAL RIGHTS ON SAT-7

March 2020

This year’s milestone International Women’s Day (8 March) highlights the world’s painfully slow progress toward gender equality and the new generation’s power to drive change. At this watershed moment, women across the Middle East – where progress has by some measures been slowest – are speaking out on SAT-7, drawing power from their Christian faith to call for the equal value that is inherently theirs.

SAT-7’s Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish Christian channels give women and girls a powerful platform to be heard, to equip and encourage each other, and to lead societal change. As we mark 25 years since the Beijing Platform for Action laid out a roadmap for empowering women, the voices of those who have since grown up now join the call for gender equality.

“This is the time for a new generation of young men and women, with God’s guidance and grace, to work together for gender equality in the Middle East and North Africa; and SAT-7 will be with them, as a platform and a voice to contribute to this long-needed change,” says SAT-7 CEO Rita El-Mounayer.

In Egypt, this voice is loud and clear on the new SAT-7 ARABIC youth talk show, You Enlighten Us, which spotlights an empowerment initiative in rural Egypt. “Boys here can get an education, but girls aren’t allowed, ‘because he’s a man.’ That’s why there’s no equality,” says a young woman who takes part. “I want to go out, work, and see people. I feel that this is my right that I can’t have,” says another. In the same episode, counsellor Samah Ishak says, “Society has put women in a limited role, but Jesus showed in the Bible how women’s role can be effective and vital.”

In Turkey, the SAT-7 TÜRK news program, Worldview recently spoke out against worsening gender-based violence in the country. Female presenter Senem Ekener declares, “Society as a whole needs to stand up against this. This is never something that God approves of. Nothing and no one created in God’s image should be a victim of this.” And on the discussion program, Turning Point, presenter Gizem Düzgüner shares what she feels it means to be a woman today. “It means to work. It means not giving up; to persevere, especially in our community. When we think of women, this is what comes to mind.”

Empowered by their faith, Christian women are also speaking powerfully in Algeria. “We have seen many women get to know Jesus and totally change,” says local SAT-7 team member Karima Abdelfatteh. “The freedom they feel is extraordinary. Some older women are so courageous; they go out to speak about Jesus in the street. It’s amazing,” she continues. “My prayer is that women in Algeria will be empowered. They are doing great things, without being appreciated.”

Meanwhile in Iran, several SAT-7 PARS programs spotlight issues affecting women. The women’s talk show, Insiders, for example, recently examined the issues of FGM in the Middle East and North Africa and the role of women in sport, including the stand taken by Kimia Alizadeh, the Olympic medallist who recently defected from the country, describing herself as “one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran”.

THE FIGHT THAT NEEDS US ALL
The push for gender equality needs all of us, regardless of gender or age, to follow the lead of these women and unite for change. There is much work to do:

• Globally, a new UN report shows that at least 90% of people hold bias against women
• The Middle East and North Africa has the widest gender gap in the world, predicted to take 139 years to close (Source: World Economic Forum)
• Only 21% of the MENA workforce are women
• In places, gender-based violence is worsening: 474 women in Turkey were killed by men in 2019 (Source: We Will End Femicide)

Please pray today that the words of the brave women you have read today will impact many who hear them in the Middle East and North Africa. And please consider making a donation to SAT-7’s work to empower women with the life-changing Gospel message, to give them a platform, and to advocate for their rights.