Last week I spoke at a British Council conference in Istanbul where I met some amazing women – and men – from Arab Spring countries.

We spent three days talking about gender, politics, democracy and the media, with the occasional discussion about cakes, clothes and children.

I am still considering all I learned – and what more I need to learn, about the challenges facing the women helping to build new democracies in the Middle East. What I do know is that the women I met last week are courageous, full of life and optimism, and are doing all they can to build a better world.

Istanbul conference