In June of 2012, Bridgewater hosted its second Middle East International Conference, where participants from all over the world gathered for presentations and discussions focusing on issues concerning women's rights and uprisings in the Middle East. Co-sponsored by the university's Center for Middle East Studies and the Women's and Gender Studies Program, the cross-disciplinary conference emphasized the need to examine gender issues and women’s rights in an international context.
According to conference co-organizer Dr. Jabbar Al-Obaidi, "The cause of women’s suffering in the Middle East is the policies of an elite group of men, a few corrupted individuals.” A professor of communication studies and director of the Center for Middle East Studies, Dr. Al-Obaidi believes a new way of life is possible.
"The Middle East and particularly the Arab world are going through dramatic changes,” he notes. “What the people want is for those in authority to listen to the voice of social justice – a social justice that emphasizes the rule of law, democracy, social stability, employment and good government."
In his welcoming remarks at the conference, President Dana Mohler-Faria said it is important to examine the status of women around the world, particularly in the Middle East, where women have fewer opportunities than women in the West. "Significant roles that women can and should play in the world are foremost in the minds of all of us attending this conference,” he said, “and when we look at those areas of the world where women are playing a subservient role, we see the potential that women have to change those societies and to change the world.”