Extracts from Inventing our Future – Women

I was honored to be given a draft of a book by Dr. Ismail Serageldin “Inventing our Future” and was really impressed by the ideas expressed so strongly on the pages. The book is based on speeches that he has delivered on various occasions between 2004 and 2007,I decided to select some of these ideas and  to publish them on my blog: The issue of women has emerged repeatedly in Dr. Serageldin’s speeches. Following are some of his words about the status, the role and the importance of women: No society can advance if it ignores the talents and contributions of half its population. Ample evidence exists that by educating girls and empowering women is central to any real socio-economic development.  No claim to cultural specificity should be given credence if it leads to the oppression of women or the mutilation of girls. Women are not just victims of oppression or vectors of change. They are the artisans of social capital, that lattice of values that is the glue that holds societies together. It is they who repair the torn social fabric of communities in the difficult post-conflict situations. They are the custodians of values, who nurture these values in the next generation. Crimes against women, such as rape, trafficking and honor killing, reflect pathological behaviors by men Educating girls and empowering women is one aspect of the transformation that brings good governance and competitiveness together. A society cannot hobble half its population and expect to compete effectively with one that nurtures the talents of all its people. Global experience highlights the emerging centrality of women. They are the true vectors of development. There is ample evidence that the key to development lies in the education of girls and the empowerment of women. These are the single most important actions that any developing society can undertake: the education of girls and the empowerment of women The above views were highlighted and mentioned in the Alexandria declaration that has put among other recommendations for the reform in the Arab world the following recommendations concerning women:

  • Empowering women to participate in the national workforce and to make use of their experience and qualifications.
  • Freeing and developing female culture to achieve equality between the sexes in education and employment in order to ensure full social participation.
  • Eradicating illiteracy, especially among women, in no more than ten years.

 In conclusion I can say no more than I fully agree with the above ideas and viewpoints. Two points I liked very much is that women are the true vectors of development and the artisans of social capital.Women are our mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters, they are equal in rights to men they form the second arm of the society and as we say in our says  single hand cannot clap, society needs the two hands to be able to advance. Isolating, oppressing women means that we will always operate with half our potential.. 

The above quotes were extracted from the book INVENTING OUR FUTURE – Essays on Freedom, Democracy and Reform in the Arab World by Dr. Ismail Serageldin, the second edition published in 2007.The book contains five documents: 

·         The Tides of Change: Reflections on Reform in the Arab and Muslim Worlds  (Invited public lecture delivered at the University of Minnesota March 2005)

·         The First Freedom (Keynote address delivered at the second “Beacon for Freedom” conference, organized at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, in September 2004)

·         Governance, Competitiveness and the Arab Future (Essay written at the request of the World Economic Forum for the Arab Competitiveness Report of 2005)

·         Is Democracy possible in the Middle East? (lecture delivered to a combined group of scholars from Al‑Ahram and Brookings at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina 2007)

·         The Alexandria Declaration (Co-drafted with some 167 distinguished Arabs March 2004)

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4 Responses to “Extracts from Inventing our Future – Women”


  1. 1 Marwa Rakha July 20, 2007 at 11:29 am

    I know that words like empowering women, freeing females, developing females, equality …etc. sound good in speeches but they are so hollow and so vague.

    Let me give you a few examples:

    1) Empowering women to participate in the national workforce = limit them to working as secretaries and teachers especially if they are velied or fat or below the male criteria of beauty.

    2) To make use of their experience and qualifications = this line needs to become SMART ( as in SMART objectives)

    3) Freeing and developing female culture to achieve equality between the sexes in education and employment in order to ensure full social participation = This is a redundant repetition of what was mentioned above … it just sounds nice so it is worht repeating. Girls are taught how to become inferior subservient breeds in school and at home .. hence they develop into women who have high tolerance for abuse (any form) and low self esteem.

    Intventing the future needs much more work … a long way to go

    Eradicating illiteracy, especially among women, in no more than ten years.

  2. 2 rafiknakhla July 20, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    No these are not hollow words when your actions support your words.
    Unfortunately these are the distorted meanings of these society, empowering women means equal opportunities regardless of dress or appearance. Empowering women appeared on the declaration of Alexandria with tow other statements:
    Empowering women to participate in the national workforce and to make use of their experience and qualifications.
    Freeing and developing female culture to achieve equality between the sexes in education and employment in order to ensure full social participation.
    Eradicating illiteracy, especially among women, in no more than ten years.

  3. 3 rafiknakhla July 20, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    these three are complementing each other and represent the broad lines towards the reform in the Arab World which is social, cultural economic and political.
    They did not appear in speeches but in an official document called the declaration of Alexandria you should read it on line at http://www.bibalex.org

  4. 4 mohamed abdel raouf November 11, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    hi dr rakik
    we can’t ignore the role of the women in our society & there is many women that that make a high successfull in their job
    but we can’t ignore that the most important job or the first job to the waman is her home , her husbund & her kids
    & she must success first in this job & then successs in the other job to finily success in her role in the socitey


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