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Showing posts from February, 2016

5 Arab women who are breaking down stereotypes and building their countries

This post was originally published in the World Bank blog Voices.  

There is a horrible old saying in some Arab countries: Women belong to their homes and husbands only. They shouldn’t be educated, work, or have an opinion. This belief, unfortunately, still dominates some areas in the Arab world. But modern, educated, and strong-willed Arab women and men find this saying backward and unfitting.

Women are 49.7% of about 345.5 million people in the Middle East and North Africa region. Some in the West think of these women as zipped up in a tent in the desert, probably beaten up by their husbands, a stereotype many of today’s Arab women fight and prove wrong.

Yes, there are still many barriers remaining in the way of closing the gender gap in the Arab world, but many advances have been made in education, politics, entrepreneurship, labor, and health. Arab women today are entrepreneurs, leaders, activists, educators, Nobel Prize winners, and much more. They are reshaping their societies an…

4 smartphone tools Syrian refugees use to arrive in Europe safely

Syrian refugee Yusuf holds his smartphone, which he describes as “the most important thing.” With this, he said, he is able to call his father in Syria. © B. Sokol/UNHCR
This post was originally published on the World Bank Voices blog. 

If you look inside the bag of any refugee on a life-threatening boat trip to Europe, you see a few possessions that vary from one refugee to another. However, there is one thing they all carry with them: a smartphone.

Those refugees have been criticized for owning smartphones, but what critics do not understand is that refugees consider these expensive devices as their main lifeline to the wider world, helping them flee wars and persecution. They are also the tools through which they tell the world their stories and narrate what is described as the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

The refugees’ escape to Europe is the first of its kind in a fully digital age. It has changed how the exodus is unfolding. Technology used by the refugees is not ju…

Social media: Using our voice to end adversity

This post was originally published on the World Bank's Voices blog.

When was the last time you used your mobile phone camera? Yesterday, this morning, or a few minutes ago? How did you use it? To snap a photo of your child or pet, or maybe to identify a problem in your community to bring it to public attention?

Have you ever thought that your camera phone can actually capture more than the ordinary? Did you know that with just one snap you might be able to save lives and lift people out of hardship and poverty?

Yes, you can! At least one stranger in downtown Beirut believed so.