A BLOG POST BY STEPHENIE FOSTER
Like so many others, I have been watching the unfolding events in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen on CNN and BBC. I am keenly interested, having worked with women running for office, NGOs and party activists in this region, in particular in Yemen, a country where I have travelled five times to train women running for office, as well as men and women party leaders on how to increase women's participation in politics. Today, undeniably, the role of the social media is extraordinary in galvanizing political will. The ability of that media to bypass traditional media is stunning. Its power to communicate events and mobilize people – hopefully in a peaceful manner – is transformative.
I am also struck by the photos I’ve seen. While most of the demonstrators are men, there are women in the crowds. I’ve heard women interviewed on international media about their hopes for the future in their countries. My hope is that whatever the outcome, women place a strong role in creating structures, organizations and policies that emerge. We can’t let protest silence women or downplay the critical role women must play in conflict resolution, community building, policy formulation and social change.