Press Release

Ms. Obaid Among 50 Most Powerful Arab Women, Forbes Says

7 February 2005
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York—Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, has been named one of the 50 most powerful women in the Arab world by Forbes magazine’s Arabic edition. The magazine has been famous for such authoritative lists as its annual America’s wealthiest 400.

In its December 2004 issue, Forbes published a list of 50 Arab women who have a significant influence in the Arab region. The women belong to categories as diverse as politics, economics, literature, sports and science.

"Under no circumstances might a state or authority invoke reasons of custom, religion or tradition in order to justify violence against women. "
--Ms. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid

The list included Queen Rania of Jordan, Suzan Mubarak, first lady of Egypt, and a number of other first ladies. Others included Palestinian activist, Hanan Ashrawi; Queen Noor of Jordan; Lubna Olayan, chief executive officer of the Saudi Olayan Financing Company; Nayla Moawad, a member of parliament, Lebanon; and Jordanian Senator Leila Sharaf.


Forbes Arabic edition – launched in May 2004 – collaborated with a number of businesses, political and other experts in formulating the list. The finalists were chosen from among 120 women from 19 Arab countries, who were graded based on a number of criteria.

Ms. Obaid was included in the list because of her tireless campaign for the rights and empowerment of women worldwide. Her efforts over the last three decades have tremendously helped in putting women issues on top of the international development agenda.

Most recently, Ms. Obaid has been at the forefront of actions to end violence against women. For example, last October, she gave a powerful speech at the United Nations Security Council against gender violence, a speech that was described by veteran observers of the Organization as one of the toughest critiques of the world’s failures to protect women and girls. And on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women last year, she warned: “Under no circumstances might a state or authority invoke reasons of custom, religion or tradition in order to justify violence against women.” Ms. Obaid has also been relentless promoter of women’s rights, both as a basic human right and as a means to poverty reduction and development.


UNFPA is the world’s largest multilateral source of population assistance. Since it became operational in 1969, the Fund has provided substantial assistance to developing countries, at their request, to address their population and development needs. Making motherhood safer for all women is at the heart of UNFPA’s mandate.

Contact Information:

Omar Gharzeddine
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5028

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