To mark International Women’s Day, Emirates Woman asked some of the region’s most influential female trailblazers to define what feminism means to them…

Who better to discuss the changing roles of women in modern society than the women who are helping smash through the glass ceiling themselves? Here we ask some of the region’s most inspiring pioneers and trendsetters to reveal what feminism means to them.

Nez Gebreel, CEO at Dubai Design & Fashion Council


“I’ve always been taught to stand proud, know my rights and how education is a key tool for feminism. Growing up within a Muslim household, feminism and women’s rights is held with high esteem and an intrinsic part of my family’s belief and by that I mean not just only my mother, but my father and brother too. The challenge is to instil that confidence and that education in others.”

Jessica Kahawaty, Former Beauty Queen, Presenter and Philanthropist  

Jessica Kahawaty

“Feminism is not indicative of what is equal… but what is just.”


Isidora Peric, Founder of The Fashion Network

Isidora Peric Picture

‘The feminist movement should be a key priority for all communities. It is surprising that equal rights for women have not been established internationally, considering all the other incredible developments that humankind has achieved. As a human, and as a woman, I hope that we can work collectively on raising awareness regarding this important issue.”

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Nadine Kanso, Designer and Founder at Bil Arabi


“Today we live in a time of struggle and women should be stronger than ever, they should be aware of the challenges that other women endure and face, they should be supportive‎ and work towards the same goals so women can find strength equality and their right in any society they work and live in. ‎Awareness and education are key points to a successful future for women in the world.

Mariam Hakim, Presenter at Virgin Radio

Mariam Hakim, Presenter at Virgin Radio

“International Women’s Day is a chance is to celebrate the incredible success of women and how far we’ve come. But this day is also a recognition for all the women who don’t get the same opportunities as we do simply because of the circumstances they were born in. This day is for those women. May they one day have all the opportunities they deserve.”

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Natalia Barbieri, Co-Founder of Bionda Costana

Natalia Barbieri, Co-Founder of Bionda Costana

“As someone that began her working career in the city, I understood very early on that I was a feminist. Feminism is about equality, it’s about fighting for rights, it’s about fighting for freedom, and fighting for opportunities that men take for granted.”

Raha Moharrak, the first Saudi Arabian Woman to Climb Mount Everest

 Raha Moharrak

“Feminism is conquering what divides us in our own unique way how ever grand or minute and leaving  a gender blind legacy for future generations.”


Jelena Bin Drai, Founder of Duchess Fashion and Vanilla by Jelena

Jelena bin drai

“Women are fierce and great influencers. I am proud to represent the female entrepreneurs in Dubai, and hope that this empowers other women to go after what they love.”

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Alanoud Badr, Designer and Founder of Lady Fozaza

 Alanoud Badr

“Feminism to me is not seeking equality or superiority to men but to be the best leading example of our kind, in wit, elegance, grace and power of mind.”

Charlotte Balbier, Founder of Charlotte Balbier Bridal Collection

Charlotte Balbier

“Feminism to me is being independent and in control of your own destiny. Not having to rely on others to provide for you in a financial and materialistic way. I do believe we all need emotional support and love in our lives but we must always remain a strong, independent and focused woman, who is in control of her own destiny and life journey.”


Martine Micallef, co-founder of Parfums M.Micallef

Martine Micallef, co-founder of Parfums M.Micallef

“Nowadays women are far more expressive and it’s so inspiring to see them embrace their capabilities and realise their true potential. We have certainly proven to be just as hard-working and talented as men and hopefully gender disparity will in time become a thing of the past, ”


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