OmanPride: Miad Al Balushi, true ambassador of Omani women
May 15, 2017 | 8:32 PM
by Shruthi Nair
According to Miad Al Balushi, Oman has set an example in the region when it comes to equality and equal rights.

An international relations specialist at the Research Council, Miad Al Balushi has been a true ambassador of Omani women, appreciating their capabilities and using her resources to give them a platform to express themselves. Balushi’s first job after graduation was in the Ministry of Social Development, where she worked in various departments, from community clubs to international relations, facilitating collaborations between Oman and international organisations, such as the UN, organisations for child development, women’s issues, and others.

“I knew there were a lot of interesting projects with regards to women’s issues, which would interest me, being a woman myself. I feel we have many equal rights in this country, and I feel we are fortunate, compared with other countries in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council),” she said. Balushi was given the responsibility to organise the Omani Women’s Symposium, which she believes was held because the authorities realised there was an absence of women in the Shura Council.

“We have all these rights and opportunities, but how come not even one woman got a seat (in the elections)? In 1980, there were women (in the cabinet). We were progressive; we shouldn’t go back. However, it just seemed like there were internal issues. That’s why, the idea of the symposium came about,” Balushi pointed out.

There were other issues that were highlighted during the symposium, including ownership of land. “Women were not allowed to get land from the government. This changed after the symposium. All the women, regardless of their background, have the right to get land from the government,” she explained.

In October 2010, to celebrate their achievements, Balushi and her group came up with the idea of the Omani Women’s Campaign. “One of our programmes was Art Speaks. It was meant to give women a platform to express themselves through the medium of art. We brought together 40 girls from all the regions across Oman. We collaborated with the arts association and women’s associations in Oman. All the famous artists provided free sessions for these girls,” she said.

Several renowned artists, including Hassan Meer and others, came forward to provide the girls with free art sessions as a gesture to encourage the initiative. “We gave the girls the task of painting how they viewed the status of Omani women in the next 40 years. All the paintings were put up on auction and the money raised was given to an association for the handicapped,” Balushi recalled. Following the success and warm response to the event, October 17 is now being celebrated as Omani Women’s Day.

Balushi has never felt the need to have empowerment and feminism or rant rallies for Omani women. In fact, according to her, Oman has set an example in the region when it comes to equality and equal rights. “One of the first women GCC ministers came from Oman. I admire the fact that His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said is supporting women. We have women in the cabinet,” she stressed.

Her efforts and initiatives to bring together women to address their issues, as well as bring together women from different parts of Oman and give them an opportunity to express themselves, has played an important role in shaping the way we look at Omani women today.

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