I can honestly say that the eight Arab women currently touring Australia talking about the struggle for women's rights in the Arab world are stronger and more fearless than any man I think I've ever met.
It's no slant on men at all. It's a genuine fact. There is a fearlessness and powerful, unstoppable energy about them.
I've been trying to work out why it is that these impressive women have left me with such a powerful impression. Perhaps in their own struggle for freedom and peace, they have stared pain, tragedy and terror right in the face.
Perhaps it's about their mother or father who wanted something so much more than what they ever had.
Whatever the reason, these women from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates have been welcomed Downunder with huge open arms and intense curiosity.
For me, I felt like I was back in the Middle East surrounded by the 'sisterhood' that is so unique to the Arab world in my experience.
By day two, I was in tears. Tears because of their struggles, and tears because of my deep love for that part of the world. It is something special when you feel a sense of spirit that is so rich in that part of the world. I have often described this feeling as a four dimensional world as opposed to a three dimensional one in much of the main stream Western world.
Despite the conflict, the Middle East and North Africa is in my heart. It has another side to it. A side that the Western world knows very little about. It's a beautiful, deep and rich mysterious part of the world, deeply respectful and hospitable.
Once it's in your heart it is there forever. It certainly is for me.
The diversity of the women was demonstrated not only in their feisty discussions on feminism and fighting for freedom, but in their personal stories of where they've come from.
Reading their profiles completely shatters any stereotype that anyone may have about Arab women being supressed by men and their careers span investment banking, business, media, medicine, politics, filmmaking, human rights and non-government organisations.
For more on the stories of these extraordinary women fighting for the rights of women across the Arab world visit www.ausarabwomensdialogue.org.au
Minoush Abdel-Meguid from Egypt, Hanaa Edwar from Iraq, Rana Hussein from Jordan, Zeina Daccache from Lebanon, Manal Elattir from Morocco, Wafa' Abdel Rahman from Palestine, Samar Fatany from Saudi Arabia and Dr Houriya Kazim from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Their final engagement today was at Australia's National Press Club in Canberra where it was televised nationally on ABC and Sky networks. There wasn't a spare seat in the house.
They head to Sydney tonight where they will spend the rest of the week and then onto Melbourne for the final part of the tour down under for the Australian Arab Women's Dialogue.
I spoke today with Adam Shirley on ABC 666 Local Radio Canberra Drive program following the lunch at the National Press Club and gave a wrap up of the Canberra events.
- womens rights / Arab Spring