What Google Taught Us About The Women of The Middle East


H.E. Sheikha Dr. Hind Al Qassimi at WOMENA’s social enterprise pitch event in June 2015

49.65% of the MENA region is female; a total of approximately 173 million women.

This represents a huge demographic that is often underreported, underestimated and broadly stereotyped.

In celebration of 2016 Women’s Day on March 8th, the WOMENA team wanted to know more about these women. Who were they? What were they doing? How were they impacting their societies?

So, like all good tech investors we asked Google, with this search:

These were the first results we came up with:

Not cool Google.

But then we kept on scrolling. Past words like ‘oppressed’, ‘can’t do’, ‘patriarchy’, ‘sexism’, we begin to see ‘entrepreneurs’, ‘defying norms’, ‘instrumental.

By the time we reached Google’s 12th page, a different picture was emerging.

As we kept on going, we were inundated with articles, stories and examples of MENA women who were change-makers and powerful forces to be reckoned with. Here are some things our search taught us about the women of MENA:

Women of MENA were leaders of governments, executives of companies, and investment gurus.

Women of MENA were transforming arts and culture, on the cutting edge of design, making award-winning films, and designing some of the world’s most iconic buildings.

Women of MENA are taking on non-traditional industries such as financial engineering, oil and gas specialists and robotics by storm 

Women of MENA are starting businesses, writing code and building e-commerce platforms. There are more women graduating with science degrees in MENA countries than in Western Europe. 

Women of MENA are making history.

These women are changing their countries, communities and economies. No doubt, Women of MENA continue to face challenges, but from what we’ve seen, they’re gaining ground with every passing year.

If this is the case’ we thought, ‘why are these more recent stories not populating the search results? Why do we have to go to the 5th page of Google search to find out about MENA women’s accomplishments?’.

So we decided to change this.  

In honour women’s day, we’re going to hit up the algorithms with positive messages of Women of MENA who CAN, who WILL, who HAVE, and who ARE.   

This is where you, the women of MENA come in.

Grab your nearest paper, pen, stylus or lipstick marker, and tell us WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU HAVE DONE.

Tag it with #WomenofMENA and #WOMENA and upload it to your social media channels.

Let’s replace those first results of Google with examples of what #WomenofMENA are really doing…which is: anything they want!


“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of vision, then it becomes less important whether I am afraid.”

Audre Lorde American writer, radical feminist, womanist, and civil rights activist.

“Islam affords women their rightful status, and encourages them to work in all sectors, as long as they are afforded appropriate respect.”

Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al NahyanRuler and Father of the UAE