Women’s rights movements have taken shape across the region in recent years, despite the push against the Arab world’s patriarchal structures, few public figures have spoken out against it, until now.
In an interview with Time magazine, Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah – who was named on the publication’s list of this year’s 100 Most Influential People—spoke out against the mistreatment of women in Egypt and across the Arab world.
“I think we need to change the way we treat women in our culture” he said. “It’s not optional”.
The 26-year-old footballer also spoke on what influenced his opinion on gender equality, citing “the treatment of women my culture and in the Middle East”. “I support women more than I did before, because I feel like she deserves more than what they give her now, at the moment, he added.
Just last year, the UN published what was the largest study exploring gender issues in the Arab world—painting a clear picture of the how deeply entrenched patriarchal structures are in Arab societies.
But whilst much still needs to be done, progress has been made in recent years. In the last two years alone, real changes have been made, from Saudi Arabia finally granting women the right to drive, to Tunisia, where a proposal of equal inheritance laws have been proposed.