9 Arab women on BBC’s 100 most influential women list of 2022

BBC's 100 women celebrates the achievement of women internationally, from grassroots volunteers to global leaders.

Nine women from the Arab countries, have joined global music phenomenon, Billie Eilish and actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas on the BBC’s 100 most influential women of 2022 from around the world.

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BBC’s 100 women celebrates the achievement of women internationally, from grassroots volunteers to global leaders.

Here are the nine Arab women

Lina Abu Akleh from Palestine

Lina Abu Akleh is a Palestinian human rights defender and the niece of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed on May 11, while covering a raid by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank. 

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Lina is fighting for justice and accountability for her aunt’s murder. She holds a BA in Political and Media Studies and a MA in International Studies and Human Rights.

Lina Abu Akleh took to Twitter and wrote, “I’m honored to be named one of @BBC100women list of 2022. Being recognized for my efforts to seek  justice and accountability for my dear aunt, Palestinian American journalist #ShireenAbuAkleh, is a testament that my voice is being heard.”

Gehad Hamdy from Egypt

Dentist Gehad Hamdy is also the founder and director of Speak Up, an Egyptian feminist initiative that uses its social media platform to highlight perpetrators of gender-based violence and sexual harassment.

Hamdy’s organization encourages women to speak out about abuse, while also providing legal and emotional support and pressuring authorities to act.

Gehad Hamdy. Photo: Twitter

Ons Jabeur from Tunisia

Tunisian tennis star, Ons Jabeur, became the first Arab woman to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon 2022, one of the four major tennis tournaments in the world.

She was also the first Arab woman to win one of 1,000 titles in Madrid in May.

Reema Al Juffali from Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s first female race car motorist, Reema Juffali, made her motoring debut just months after the world’s only decades-old ban on female motorists ended, in June 2018.

She celebrated the moment with her participation as a “VIP” guest driver, in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY, an all-electric race in Diriyah, close to the capital Riyadh in 2019.

Juffali, who hails from the western city of Jeddah and was educated in the United States became the first Saudi woman to race on home soil.

She passed her driving test after she moved to the United States to study, and is now one of the only handful of Saudi women to have obtained a “racing license” in her home country, a mandatory requirement to race professionally.

Nigar Marf from Iraq

Nigar Marf, works as a head nurse in the main burns unit in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and her work includes treating women who set themselves on fire due to suffering and persecution.

During her long career working in hospitals spanning nearly 25 years, Negar Marf has also worked in pediatric burn departments and in intensive care.

Nigar Marf. Photo: BBC

Esraa Warda from Algeria

Esraa Warda, grew up among the Algerian community in the United States, and today she is a fighter in the field of culture and artistic heritage, and she has transferred traditional Algerian dance from home to classrooms in the United States.

Esraa calls for the preservation of women’s dance traditions in North Africa, with a special focus on rai dancing, a folk art form historically associated with social protests.

Roza Salih from Iraq

In May 2022, Roza Salih becomes the first refugee to be elected to Glasgow City Council.

Roza Salih was a young girl when she along with her family arrived in Scotland, after they had been forced to flee the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Now, she is the Member of Parliament for the Scottish National Party for the Greater Pollock ward.

Salih has been campaigning for refugee rights since she was a teenager, and she and her friends got together at school to protest the arrest of one of her friends.

Roza Salih took to Twitter and wrote, “Such an honour to have been noticed as one of BBC 100  inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2022. https://t.co/ZCbERgSLG4… @BBC100women #Scotland #Kurdistan #RefugeesWelcome #GlasgowGirls.”

Maeen Al-Obaidi from Yemen

Lawyer Maeen Al-Obaidi volunteered in the Yemeni Women’s Union, through which she advocated for imprisoned women and battered women. She was also the first woman to reach the Bar Council as supervisor of the Human Rights and Freedoms Committee.

Maeen Al-Obaidi. Photo: BBC

Dima Amin Aktaa from Syria

In 2012, Dima Amin Aktaa was 18 years old when an explosion rocked her family’s house in the town of Salqin in Idlib countryside. The moment a shell landed on the house, it took Dima minutes to realize that she had lost her left leg. 

Dima did not give up, and after moving to Britain and having a prosthetic leg installed, she returned to her favorite sport and practiced as a fundraiser for refugees, especially children whose organs had been amputated because of the war.

Now, ten years later, Dima is focusing on training in preparation for the 2024 Paralympic Games.

Dima Amin Aktaa took to Instagram and wrote, “So grateful. I have been selected for the second time, to be among the 100 inspirational women around the world. Feeling inspired & empowered by all the incredible women I met at the #bbc100women event last evening. There’s nothing like celebrating the power and impact of brilliant and brave women.”

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