What Editors and Journalists Are Saying about Women's Enews

The Nation

"I think Women's eNews is a terrific resource. I often see stories here before they appear elsewhere and have found talented writers too."
--Betsy Reed, senior editor

National Public Radio

and "Always trolling for news that I cannot find elsewhere . . ."
--Cathy Shaw, news editor, national desk, National Public Radio

Newsweek

"I start every day by reading your stuff and, as I said, have become particularly dependent on Outrage of the Week. From a grateful reader."
--Anna Quindlen, columnist

The New Republic

"I just like getting as much women's news as possible, since there is so little of it in the regular press, and so little discussion on TV."
--Sarah Blustain, managing editor

PBS

"Every week, when we choose topics for To the Contrary (the nation's only woman-owned, all news analysis program, which airs on PBS) we go to your site to get clued in on what's going on in the women's community. We cover all issues affecting women, children, families and communities of color. You are the only site on the web that keeps intelligent, involved, informed women up to date on public policy issues that affect their lives. Please keep up your important work! Cheers and thanks!"
--Bonnie Erbe, host and producer, To the Contrary

The Price of Motherhood

"I read Women's eNews faithfully, and use its wonderful insights and news in freelance articles for newspapers and magazines, as well as lectures all over the country. Indispensable!"
--Ann Crittenden, author

Washington Post

"I read Women's eNews daily to learn about women's issues here and around the world. It serves an important need because political and foreign reporters tend to be male and bring a male viewpoint to their coverage; that is, they seem blind to the gender issues underlying many disputes. Unfortunately, women reporters at most mainstream publications aren't doing enough to raise the issues either. I also forward items from Women's eNews to my family and friends, including other journalists."
--Kirstin Downey Grimsley, reporter

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Many readers have asked why the site has an . The short answer is that the board and staff believed that was enormously important to provide accessible, unbiased news on global women's issues, at no cost, to those in the region.

The Background

During the summer of 2002, Women's eNews learned that, while most of our readers were based in North America and Western Europe, a surprisingly high number were based in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Arabic-speaking countries. In fact, the visitors from the Middle East ranked fourth--after North America, Western Europe and unknown--in frequency of visits.

At about the same time, the United Nations' Development Program issued its ground-breakingFirst Arab Human Development Report. The report painted a disturbing portrait of a region under-utilizing and under-investing in its human capital, with dire consequences for the region's people as well as the rest of the globe.

"Despite the differences across the region," the report said, "three critical deficits face all Arab countries: freedom; women's empowerment; human capabilities and knowledge relative to income." It went on to say that Arab countries scored lowest on the freedom index out of all regions in the world, as well as in large scale illiteracy and deficiencies in the education system.

In addition, the report said: "Utilization of Arab women's capabilities through political and economic participation remain the lowest in the world in qualitative terms. In many countries of the region, women suffer from unequal citizenship and legal entitlements. In some countries with elected national assemblies, women are still denied the right to vote or hold office. And one in every two Arab women can neither read nor write . . . These deficits must be addressed in every field: economic, political and social."

Women in the Middle East: Increased Participation Is a Must

Several months later, at a United Nations conference in Beirut in November 2002 on women's role in the media, the U.N.'s executive secretary for the region, Mervat Tallawy, said that the media, with all the technological advancement within their reach, could help in transforming the traditions and customs which had greatly hampered the advancement of Arab women. She said she hoped the media would promote positive changes, including alternatives to the negative and stereotypical image of women.

Reflecting Tallawy's concern, a 143-page report, Women's Rights and the Arab Media (Centre for Media Freedom--Middle East and North America, CMF MENA, , London) found that the Arab media ignored women's concerns by and large, reinforced stereotypes and were without women in management positions. Three of the report's five recommendations are relevant to the development of Arabic Women's eNews.

 

The report called for the following:

(The first recommendation called on human rights advocates to familiarize the Arab media with the provisions of the relevant international conventions and action programs in favor of women's rights and the fifth called on donors to support these efforts called for in the other four recommendations.)

The report makes clear that none of this could occur without a free press and called on Arab states "to provide and reinforce constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom of expression and abolish those laws and measures that limit the freedom of the press."

Arabic Women's eNews

As unbiased source of underreported news about women throughout the world, Women's eNews responded to these challenges.

Women's eNews developed an Arabic-language version--one that would translate Women's eNews articles into Arabic as well as produce original content for Arabic Women's eNews in Arabic. (This original content could then be translated for the benefit of our English-speaking audience on the Women's eNews site.)

With support from a private donor committed to supporting freedom of the press, Women's eNews contracted with a firm specializing in Arabic language Web sites to construct a site replicating the Women's eNews site as closely as possible for the Arabic reader. Women's eNews also engaged an experienced U.S.-based Arabic-speaking journalist to act as editor of the site and contracted with a professional translator with extensive experience in dealing with American news stories being reproduced in Arabic.

We think it is important to fulfill the classic role of journalism especially for women throughout this region and provide reporting on the facts and views about their lives.

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