A Window Into Women of the Arab Spring

Progress or Reversals?

As part of Women's History Month, IPDGC and the Institute for Middle East Studies hosted a panel discussion to examine the complex question of how women have fared since the promising beginning of the Arab Spring three years ago.

With a focus on Egypt and how the political situation affects women and girls across the Middle East and North Africa, the discussion also touched on development, education, human rights, constitutional changes, and inclusiveness.

In addition to the panel, two film previews were presented:

  • Women and Girls Lead - A three-minute film about the Independent Television Service's strategic media campaign, Women and Girls Lead, which supports and sustains a growing movement to empower them, their communities, and future generations.
  • Awakening - Produced by Fork Films, Awakening is part of Women and Girls Lead, a 50-film, multi-year commitment to spark and sustain a global conversation about gender equality and life of women and girls worldwide. This three-minute preview shows a groundbreaking multimedia initiative featuring women of the Middle East and North Africa in their continuing quest to realize the goals of the 2011 revolutions.


Panel Participants


Hebah Abdalla is a senior interview producer with Al Jazeera, managing interviews with experts, news makers and world leaders for the network. She serves as an integral part of the team that helped launch the Washington Broadcast Center for the English-language international channel and for Al Jazeera America and the award-winning social media news program, The Stream. Prior to this, she worked in news production for CNN and as an assignment editor for the award-winning show, World Report. She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism and a Master's degree in humanities, both from Ohio State University. Her graduate thesis centered on media paradigms in the Egyptian press.

Sahar Atrache is a senior analyst for Lebanon for the International Crisis Group, which she joined in 2008. Prior to this, she worked with the United Nations in Palestinian Camps in Lebanon. She has also worked with several Lebanese and international NGOs on projects related to social development, women empowerment and governance. She has conducted extensive research on Hizbollah, Sunni's political and Islamist groups, Syrian and Palestinian refugees. She holds post-Master's degrees in Political Science and Journalism.

Isobel Coleman is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, where she directs the Civil Society, Markets & Democracy program. Her areas of expertise include the political economy of the Middle East, democratization, civil society, economic development, educational reform, and gender issues. She has written for several publications, including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and theNew York Times. In 2011, Newsweek named her as one of "150 Women Who Shake the World."

Thomas Gorguissian is a journalist and writer based in Washington, D.C. Currently, he contributes reports and analyses in Arabic and English to Egyptian daily newspapers, Al Ahram and Al Tahrir. Over the past 25 years, he has written extensively on Egypt's culture, politics, and society, in both Arabic and English, as well as US foreign policy vis-à-vis the Middle East. He has appeared as an analyst on Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, CNN, and others.

Gini Reticker is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. She is the executive producer and director of Awakening, a groundbreaking multimedia initiative featuring women of the Middle East and North Africa in their continuing quest to realize the goals of the region's 2011 revolutions. Early on, Reticker won the Sunday Freedom of Expression Award for her film, Heart of the Matter about women and AIDS. In 2004, her short film Asylum received an Academy Award for recounting one woman's journey to political asylum in the U.S. She directed the widely acclaimed Pray the Devil Back to Hell and was the executive producer of the PBS series Women, War & Peace, which received the Overseas Press Club’s Edward R. Murrow Award


Tara Sonenshine, Fellow at the School of Media and Public Affairs; former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs; member of the Leadership Council of Women and Girls Lead


Sean Aday, Director of the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication

Marc Lynch, Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies