April 2021 Updates
April was sexual assault awareness month! We have done a lot around this. Previously, as part of our monthly speaking series Food4thought (F4T), we engaged young people in this conversation by screening “The Haunting Ground”, a documentary about sexual assault on campus, and conducted self-defense sessions for students to protect themselves and build their self-confidence.
This month, as part of our F4T, we talked about countering backlash and about the work that breaks gender barriers with outspoken activists from the Arab region Mozn Hassan, Diana Abou Abbas, Zahra Langhi, and Laury Haytayan. The inspiring speakers shared their personal experience as activists in the region, provided an insight on the importance of women’s political participation and reclaiming the narrative of the feminist movement, the impact of the crisis on the LGBTQ individuals, and mansplaining in the workplace.
AiW’s Director Myriam Sfeir concluded the session by reiterating the importance of having powerful voices who are unafraid to speak out, even in the face of threats. She said:
We should be uncompromising in our asks and refuse to settle for piecemeal gains. We should not settle for ticking the boxes anymore. What is needed is effective representation to disrupt the narrative. We need to redesign the process and reclaim the space. We need to rebuild the movement and give voices to young people, and also create a space for young activists.
To watch the full event, check out our YouTube channel.
Working with the security sector is critical, because they can be strong allies in our fight to end violence against women. And yet sometimes, they are also perpetrators. We’ve done years of work with the security sector in Lebanon – from capacity building workshops to focusing on preventing and responding to gender-based violence and on applying human rights principles.
This month, 15 members of the Lebanese Army, Lebanese Internal Security Forces, and Lebanese General Security completed a specialized training, funded by International Centre for Migration Policy Development, that encompassed 3 courses that were tailor-made out of our Gender in Development and Humanitarian Assistance Certificate. Those three courses highlighted the Women, Peace, and Security agenda, National Action Plans, and Gender Mainstreaming. This project ties well with our previous initiatives where we strive to collaborate with the security forces to increase positive attitudes toward gender equality and improve engagement with the full range of human rights.
We continue to celebrate our young activists and support them in their leadership. We’re proud to announce that 35 outstanding young female activists from the Arab region have been selected to participate in the second phase of the Laure Moghaizel training. These young women will be equipped with the necessary tools and information to fight violence against women in times of crisis and conflict - skills that are highly needed for human rights defenders in our region.
We also took part in international events to talk about leadership and women’s rights. Given Dr. Abirafeh’s ample experience working as a humanitarian, she presented at the 2021 Humanitarian Leadership Conference held by the Center for Humanitarian Leadership to talk about “Feminist Leadership in an Unequal World”. During her talk, Dr. Abirafeh set the global context for women saying “We’re still not able to fully participate in all aspects of public, political and social life. It’s unbelievable that we’re still talking about equality and that we have failed to achieve it.”
Myriam Sfeir also talked about the impact of COVID-19 on women in an online event organized by Rotary Clubs in Lebanon. Check this link to know more about the gendered impact of COVID-19.
The AiW Team