Queen Rania urges education for Arab women
Jordan’s queen also told the Women in the World Summit that misinterpretation of religion is part of what holds women back
Education is the “best route” for women in the Middle East to win their rights, Queen Rania of Jordan told the fifth annual Women in the World Summit in New York on Thursday night.
Some of the issues holding woman back in the region include “misinterpretation” of religion, she added.
Islam “does give women the right to pursue a career, to have independence, to have her financial autonomy,” she said.
“We have social norms and traditions that hold women back. The best way to overcome these challenges is by a woman being empowered with education, knowledge and experience. That’s what allows you to break barriers,” the queen added.
Over the last three years, some changes in the Arab world “have armed [women] with the legacy of self-confidence that nobody can take away. Although some would continue to sideline them, they’ll never be able to silence them,” she said.
Women in the Middle East are trying to change both the laws and social perceptions that stand against them, she added.
Syrian refugee crisis
Queen Rania also addressed the challenges posed by the influx of refugees from neighboring Syria into Jordan, which has a population of about six million.
Numbering 600,000, Syrian refugees represent 10% of Jordan’s population, she added.
“To put it in perspective, it’s like having 30 million seeking refuge in the United States,” she said.
“It’s been a tremendous stress on our trade deficit, on our financial situation. We’ve seen prices go up.”
Given Jordan’s water shortage, the impact of refugees is especially felt on water resources, the queen said.
“According to polls, Syrians use five times as much water as the average individual in Jordan, because they were used to water in abundance,” she added.
“So it’s really been a tremendous strain on our infrastructure, on our health infrastructure, schools, and that’s really exasperating the poorest segments of our society.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, were among the featured guests of the summit.