It would be an understatement to say that the first Arab Land Conference was a busy one. The afternoon of the conference’s last day, however, featured the Land Portal’s very own masterclass on Women, Social media and Their Access to Land in the Arab World. Never has women’s use of social media been more pertinent. In the past year alone, we have seen the rise of the #metoo movement, spearheaded by and for women globally, as well as Saudi women taking their rightful place on social networks, with the explosion of various famous hashtags including #women2drive, #Idrivemyself, #stopenslavingsaudiwomen and #togethertoendmaleguardianship. Women in Saudi Arabia have also taken to video technology to make their case, filming themselves driving in order to emphasize the importance of driving in their personal and professional lives. Since the rise of the Arab Spring, over six years ago, social networks have also been instrumental to eliciting change across the region.
The obvious question must then be asked: can we take advantage of these online spaces to help women air out their concerns with regards to their land rights? The answer is not as simple as it may seem. From Sudan to Palestine, many examples were given by an active audience. Women, indeed are taking to social media to talk about everything from confiscated solar panels in Palestine, to sharing agricultural practices in the most rural parts of Sudan. Women in the region are clearly already using social media with great enthusiasm, but they don’t expect it to be the answer to their problems. In summary, women are using social media in ways that feel best for them! Be it professionally, personally or even anonymously, casually or to make a clear political statement, they are wielding online technologies to their advantage.
The event included panelists Raed Gharib from Seeds Jordan, Rafic Khouri one of the principal author of the recently launched publication Women and Land in the Muslim World, as well as moderator Astrid Zweynert Deputy Editor at the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Staying true to the event’s topic, the masterclass included interactive online games and videos. We thank all those who joined us for a fruitful discussion.