Girls I Do Adore: Queen Rania Of Jordan

Queen Rania is considered one of the world's most elegant women

I’ve always been fascinated with Jordan’s royal family and in particular, Queen Rania.

Because we live in a world where people from the Middle East are looked upon with suspicion by even the most moderate Westerners, my heart is always filled with pride when representatives as graceful and relatable as Queen Rania stand at the forefront.

The 42-year-old was born Rania Al-Yassin to Palestinian parents in Kuwait (she’s a fellow Virgo). Ranked the most beautiful consort (queen by marriage) in the world by Harper’s Bazaar magazine in 2011, Rania’s looks are not her only outstanding feature. The tertiary-educated wife of King Abdullah II is passionate and outspoken on a variety of causes both inside and outside Jordan. Her outreach to the world via social networking (her Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages have millions of subscribers) where she encourages people to discuss cross-cultural dialogue, education and more recently, the use of social media to create social change, have made her (in the words of Oprah), “a modern monarch on a mission.” Using her YouTube channel in particular to openly discuss pertinent issues, Rania often holds sessions with the public to respond to questions about various Middle Eastern and Muslim stereotypes. She’s posted numerous videos on subjects that include honor killings, terrorism and the rights of Arab women.

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Using an example from her own childhood and surely many other young people from diverse backgrounds, the Queen released her first book in 2010, The Sandwich Swap, a story of two best friends (“Lily” and “Salma”) who argue over the ‘yucky’ taste of their respective peanut butter and jelly and hummus sandwiches and then overcome and embrace their differences. The Sandwich Swap went to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list that year. “Girls really have the power to transform societies,” Rania shares during a promotional appearance on The View during that time.

A mother of four with countless foreign decorations and prestige positions for organizations such as UNICEF, Rania is a role model for all young women across the globe and in particular, the millions of Middle Eastern girls she represents so fiercely. Shukran, Queen!

“U.N.I.T.Y.” — And Why We’re Still Looking For It

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“Who you calling a bitch?”

Twenty years ago Queen Latifah dropped her Black Reign album, featuring the breakout single “U.N.I.T.Y”. The song is still her biggest hit single to date, scoring the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. The smooth track spoke out against the disrespect of women in society including street harassment, domestic violence, and slurs against women in hip-hop culture.

As we kick off Women’s History Month in 2013, we’re still exploring the same themes and dealing with the same issues in hip-hop and beyond. We’re quick to speak on oppression of women in far away countries like India, Jordan and Somalia but take a look in our own backyard and we’re nowhere near gender equality.

“Too many of us in the United States ignore the oppression on our doorstep,” writes Jessica Valenti, author and founder of the blog Feministing, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. She says America today is “basking in a ‘girl power’ moment that doesn’t exist; it’s a mirage of equality that we’ve been duped into believing is the real thing.” So let’s set aside the illusion of top-rated, female-driven reality shows, Beyoncé performing at the Superbowl and other feel-good moments to look at a handful of the hard facts:

  • Of all the women murdered in the United States, about a third are killed by a husband or boyfriend. The only country with more women known to have been killed by domestic violence than the US is Russia.
  • Just 17 percent of US congressional seats are held by women
  • More than 85 percent of US counties do not have an abortion provider
  • Females comprise a majority of US residents living in poverty
  • Women earn about 76 cents on the dollar compared with men’s earnings
  • In terms of the global sex trade, an estimated 50,000 women are trafficked into the US each year
  • Up to 700,000 rapes occur in the USA each year
  • Sixty eight percent of women believe sex discrimination exists in the workplace

These sobering statistics are a reminder that while we’re blessed to live in a society that grants us basic rights and freedoms, women are still suffering from oppression in the “first world” and in most cases, sadly not even realizing it. Queen Latifah voiced these concerns two decades ago and while numerous female artists are out there doing the same thing, we need our high-profile ones to step forward and drive the point home once again.

Join Us For Women’s History Month 2013! #BossLadyWHM

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Women’s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It’s celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and many other regions across the world.

The whole ethos of being a “boss lady” means standing out, taking chances, making strides and reaching back to help your fellow females. We’re excited to participate in Women’s History Month 2013 (we’ve always celebrated its standout event, International Women’s Day, on March 8) with engaging content, fresh giveaways and more (you can join us by using the hashtag #BossLadyWHM).

We ask you in particular to spend time this month researching and reflecting on the difficult journeys of the greatest women to walk the earth and be comforted in the knowledge that while it’s almost never easy, it’s always worth it.