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Arabs, The - A Living History, Part 9 - Family Ties

(50 mins) Most Arab women’s lives still centre on the family, their traditional responsibilities to their own children and the power of parents and relatives to dictate their role in life.

Writer and journalist Nadia Hijab weaves this film around a large extended family of Jordanians living in Amman. The mother, Umm Ghassem, is clearly the powerful heart of this family ­strong and humorous and frank in her description of her life.

In spite of its traditional restraints, the extended Arab family is seen to work ­ as secure and loving and caring as it has always been. But we also meet other girls and women who feel that the traditional role of wife and mother is insufficient ­ the Tunisian girl who longs to leave home and find her own flat, the modern Jordanian woman who flies a Tri-star and plays squash to keep fit.

As she talks to Arab women and their families and to women active in medicine, politics, literature and the law, Nadia Hijab asks “How can we Arabs preserve the strengths of our family life and still give women a chance to lead their own lives?”