March 2021 Updates
I hate International Women’s Day. I hate the one-day-every-year that we are supposed to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come — and how far we’ve got to go for equality. Did we need reminding? Even worse to be told “happy” International Women’s Day. What, precisely, is “happy” about it? We are still not equal. How can I be happy about that?
The AiW’s Dr. Lina Abirafeh’s words ring true for International Women’s Day in 2021. How can we be happy when women all over the world still do not have free choice over their own lives and bodies, when women are still subjected to so-called “honor crimes”, female genital mutilation, unequal pay between women and men, and the list goes on. Here’s the full article: I’ll Say It, I Hate International Women’s Day, Here’s Why.
Although we have a long way to go to achieve gender equality; we could not have done it this far without our feminist foremothers. We pay tribute to the life of Arab feminist icon Dr. Nawal El Saadawi, who inspired generations of feminists in the Arab world and beyond through her words and wisdom. She is best known for being outspoken against capitalism and patriarchy. She is well known for having said:
Feminism is not a Western invention… No, feminism embedded in the culture and in the struggle of all women all over the world.
The AiW was honored to have had her as a keynote speaker at the “Upholding Gendered Peace at a Time of War” conference we held back in 2015 at LAU. In that event, Dr. El Saadawi spoke of wars in all its forms, and how women keep suffering both in times of war and peace.
This month we also shed light on women’s lives in conflict, with a powerful conversation with our friend and author of Our Bodies, Their Battlefields - award-winning journalist Christina Lamb OBE - and Serene Dardari, a young activist and humanitarian aid worker from the Arab region. They both gave us a vivid picture of the reality of women, how conflicts and the absence of women in peace-building processes are affecting the lives of thousands of women and girls. Christina Lamb concluded by asking “What keeps me going? Seeing these amazing women tell their story”.
Our friend and feminist fighter, Serene Dardari emphasized on the importance of unity and education to cause a change. She concluded with powerful words: “If not now, then when? If not us, then who?”
Further along these lines, we also held an online conference to address how women are coping with the pandemic in a warzone to shed light on how the pandemic is affecting women in conflict areas and warzones, namely by making an already difficult situation that much worse.
We also concluded the first part of our Laure Moghaizel Regional Training that was given to 130 young female activists from the Arab region to equip them with the knowledge needed on human rights principles, international treaties, the status of women, girls, vulnerable groups, the violence they face at times of conflict, and the impact of COVID-19. These young women are now able to apply the learnings in their work to provide a better living for women living in informal settlements, camps, and warzones. Forgot who Laure Moghaizel is? Click here to remember!
For the second year in a row, we were part of Athena40 global conversation that connects high-impact women from different cities around the world. This year, the theme was “Female Leadership in Times of Crises”, and BBC World presenter Tim Willcox from London moderated the conversation. For the Beirut panel, we hosted inspiring women that are true leaders of change who shared their experiences and work in transforming live during the pandemic, the Beirut blast, and beyond. The panelists concluded the webinar by giving advice and hope for young women. Mia Atoui, Co-Founder of Embrace Lebanon, said “The revolution is women and there will always be women there to support you”. Youmna Makhlouf, Lawyer and Researcher at the Legal Agenda, advised young women to pay attention, to think for themselves, and to have confidence. Diana Moukalled, Co-Founder of Daraj, concluded by saying “Frustration breeds passionate storytelling”.
The AiW’s Director, Myriam Sfeir, was hosted by Joumana Haddad on Al Hurra TV as part of “Kalimat Hak” program to talk about freedom of expression on social media - especially for young women in the Arab region and in Egypt specifically. She was also live on “Bournamag Al Yawm” on Al Hurra TV to discuss women’s enrollment in the Arab armed forces and the challenges they face. When Myriam speaks, the region listens!
Our own Jana Mourad also had something meaningful to say. Jana was hosted live on BBC Arabic part of “Alam Haza al Masaa” program to discuss the reasons behind the current economic crises in Lebanon and suggesting solutions. She emphasized that the reasons behind the Lebanese Lira devaluation are twofold: economic and political.
As always, we were part of many global conversations this month about women’s leadership, the fight for global women’s rights in the Arab region, women’s rights movement in Lebanon, and the impact of the pandemic on domestic violence and all forms of violence against women in the region and beyond.
On another note, another success for The AiW’s Executive Director and for The AiW! Dr. Lina Abirafeh has been awarded the 2021 Vital Voices Global Partnership Fellowship as one of 37 outstanding women leaders around the globe!
After all, for us, every day is women’s day until we reach equality, justice, and full rights for all women and girls around the world.
The AiW Team