As I said earlier women now make up exactly half of all users of social media sites. This makes sense given that men and women are about half and half in terms of the world’s population. However, even though our populations are split 50/50 in terms of pure numbers, this is absolutely not the case in terms of power in most countries in the world. Of these countries where women have little to no say in government or political and economic matters, Arab countries are probably the most prominent. The Middle East and North African region’s economy, society and politics continue to be monopolised by men (of all ages and social backgrounds), who look down on female leadership and participation. From society’s building block (the family home) upwards, women face an uphill struggle to feel safe and respected as equal citizens in their own nations. Conservative Arab elites should face reality sooner or later: their societies will never be able to move forward so long as women continue to be treated as second-hand citizens under the tutelage of men (Mesdoua). Social media is becoming an integral part of a movement to help women in these Arab countries to become more equal and have more say in society. Men are twice as likely to use social media in the Arab world, where women right now only make up 33% of social media users (Tomlin). As of November 2011 there were 36,016,664 Facebook users in Arab countries, almost double the number of users that there were in November of 2010 (Tomlin). As I said in my post “Social Media Gaming”, half of all Facebook users now play games on the site, which puts the number of Facebook gamers at over 430 million people. I refuse to believe that as Facebook has been able to draw a staggering number like 430 million people to their site to play games, that none of these women are from Arab countries. My thought is that with the worldwide draw of Facebook and its gaming capabilities, combined with the harsh life that most women in these Arab countries face, more and more Arab women are quickly realizing that social media can not only help them escape the malaise of everyday female life there but can also be used as a very powerful tool for social change.
Sources: Mesdoua, Imad. “Arab Women Face an Uphill Struggle for Equality” (2011) http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/imad-mesdoua/arab-womens-uphill-strugg_b_1086113.html
Tomlin, Julie. “Can Social Media Empower Arab Women?” (2012) http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/julie-tomlin/social-media-arab-women_b_1195906.html