In celebration of International Women's Day, here are five inspiring women from the region who have shred stereotypes, broken glass ceilings and led to changes in perceptions about what women can achieve if they set their minds to it.
Malala Yousafzai: Co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize and the award’s youngest ever recipient, Yousafzai is known the world over for her fight for girl’s education in Pakistan. She almost gave her life for her cause after the Taliban shot her in 2012 when she was only 14 years old.
Maryam al-Mansouri: UAE's first female air force pilot, Major Al Mansouri is known for flying her F-16 to lead the UAE’s air strikes against the terrorist Islamic State organization. She put forth a progressive sample of what Emirati women can do in different fields including defence and military.
Maryam Mirzakhani: Iranian-born, Harvard-educated, mathematician and professor at Stanford University in California, Mirzakhani became the first woman to win the prestigious global Fields Medal, also widely described as the ‘Nobel Prize for Math’.
Somayya Jabarti: Saudi Arabia’s first female editor-in-chief, Jabarti made international headlines with her appointment in the conservative kingdom. With her appointment, she has shown that capable, professional and hardworking women can assume leadership positions even in Saudi Arabia.
Anousheh Ansari: Earning her place in history as the fourth private explorer to visit space and the first astronaut of Iranian descent, Ansari blasted off on an eight-day expedition to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz TMA-9 in September 2006. In her message to women and girls all over the world, she urged them to never up their dreams and to pursue it to realization by looking for opportunities and making those opportunities happen.