Whilst gender equality in the Middle East has improved over the years, there's still much to be done with respect to how women are spoken to and addressed in everyday conversations. The Arabic language differentiates how women and men are addressed through its nouns and pronouns, but in today's culture, the modern Arabic language often defaults to utilize the masculine form as their grammatical gender in everyday conversations. As a result, women were rarely ever addressed as women. As Twitter is a platform built on the belief in equal opportunity and respect in discourse, it developed a first-of-its-kind function for the Middle Eastern market to help users convert their tweets into "Feminine Arabic" so that women are addressed with respect in brand and consumer conversations.

At Twitter, every voice can impact the world and the conversations that happen on our service are defined by the people having them. We're hoping to provide Arabic-speaking women with an option to share their unique voice and participate in an inclusive conversation while being addressed based on their preferences. We've seen great support from the industry and partnered with a number of organizations and individuals who are joining the conversation to champion this update.

Carla El Maalouli

Head of Business Marketing, Twitter MENA

The Middle East is one of the biggest global markets for Twitter. Despite its high user base and mainstream popularity, Twitter wanted to become more than just a megaphone. Rather, it aspired to connect with local culture and societies on a deeper level. With Instagram and TikTok rising in popularity, Twitter wanted to differentiate and find a way to do so that goes beyond the obvious solution of co-opting viral trends or topics. As the platform of choice for daily conversations, Twitter saw an opportunity to spark relevant and meaningful societal change by impacting the cultural discourse in its markets.

As a western brand, Twitter wanted to ensure it wasn't inserting itself within local culture in a disingenuous or irrelevant way. Hence, Twitter sought to understand how modern Arabs conversed in order to discover real life insights and issues it could leverage to connect with locals. This led to Twitter uncovering a timely and local truth that's often overlooked – Arabic-speaking women were being addressed with the wrong pronoun every 17 seconds. Imagine being addressed as the wrong gender in every conversation, whether it’s with peers or brands, a reality most women are living with today.

Today the masculine form of Arabic has become the default when it comes to everyday conversations. As Twitter is the platform for daily discourse, it saw an opportunity to impact society and the lives of its female users in a meaningful way. This led to the brand developing a first-of-its-kind feature dubbed "Female Arabic" and through a simple switch, each Tweet can now be translated to use the correct feminine nouns and pronouns. By making "Feminine Arabic" as accessible and easy to use as possible, Twitter ensured that women would always be addressed as they should be, as women.

Despite female inclusivity still having a long way to go in the region, Twitter succeeded in setting the precedence of what a social media platform can do to contribute to positive change and demonstrating the power of 140 characters to help address local societal issues. The campaign for “Feminine Arabic” trended in KSA, Egypt and UAE, garnering over 20k mentions and 18 million impressions worldwide. Furthermore, it also inspired brands to take up the cause as almost 150 regional brands pledged themselves in support of "Feminine Arabic."

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