November 2015 Update
November has been nonstop!
The month started with a presentation and an animated discussion with our students who are part of the MEPI Tomorrow’s Leaders program. This event was organized by the Student Life Office and advertised as a “reality-check workshop that moves women’s rights theories and philosophies from the classroom and conference halls to the field”. The discussion was lively - and students challenged each other on issues of how to achieve gender equality in their socio-cultural contexts. It was a great start to a strong relationship between AiW and Tomorrow’s Leaders!
A few days later, we presented at a special LAU event honoring Paula Radcliffe, the World Marathon Record-Holder. She spoke about running for a cause and overcoming personal hardships to be the best in the world! At this event, I spoke about “Playing for Equality: Sports for Women’s Empowerment” and talked about how sports are in fact a vehicle to achieve gender equality. For instance, sports have a positive impact on female health and well-being. Playing sports also builds self-esteem - it improves our self-perception and solidifies a sense of self-worth - critical for women and girls. Sports challenge and transform gender norms - helping us build societies where equality IS the norm!
Also this month, a new issue of our journal, Al-Raida, was released. This is the first of a special thematic issue in two parts that grew out of the international conference titled “Arab Countries in Transition: Gender Rights and Constitutional Reforms” organized by AiW in partnership with the Women and Memory Forum-Egypt, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Rule of Law Program MENA Region, and the Danish Centre for Research and Information on Gender, Equality, and Diversity (KVINFO). After we publish the issues in the pipeline, Al-Raida will be turned into a bi-annual, interdisciplinary journal published in both English and Arabic. We welcome student submissions and young voices - we know you have something to say!
AiW has expanded this month! We are delighted to welcome Moufeeda Haidar to the team. Moufeeda is a graduate of the Basic Living Skills Training Program. She is a Lebanese University Law graduate and an active social worker. She also trains on human rights topics, and intercultural citizenship. When you visit the Institute, Moufeeda’s welcoming face is the first you’ll see!
We also welcome Kate Rougvie to AiW! Kate has spent several years implementing and coordinating programs on gender, gender-based violence (GBV) and protection in conflict and post-conflict contexts in Africa and the Middle East. She has worked to promote gender-responsive UN security policy in Jordan; coordinated with security services during elections in DR Congo; and supported formal police and judicial response to GBV in South Sudan and the Central African Republic. Currently she is carrying out research on Security Sector Reform and Gender in Lebanon in association with AiW. She’ll be with us through February 2016. We’re thrilled to have her here!
This month I was invited by ESCWA to speak about addressing gender-based violence in emergencies - just in time for our campaign! November is a critical month for activists because every year we conduct a worldwide campaign called the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women. This campaign starts on 25 November -International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women - and ends on 10 December - International Human Rights Day. This campaign aims to raise awareness of the negative impact that violence against women has - and serves to remind us all that EVERY day we should commit to individual and collective action to end this abuse! To galvanize the LAU community, AiW has organized lots of interesting activities in conjunction with student clubs, local organizations, and others. Get involved! The best part is a video competition for LAU students. You have 30 seconds to continue the phrase “To end violence against women, I would…”. Check out the guidelines here.
At the end of the month, I attended the MESA (Middle East Studies Association) Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado. I attended interesting sessions and met academics and activists who are excited to learn about the Institute and the amazing work we’re doing. I also hope this encourages more visiting researchers and scholars to come join us!
And now I am writing to you from New York, where I am spending a few days at the LAU NYC Academic Center. I’m here to meet people, make contacts, and talk about the Institute. Watch this space next month for more!
Very warm regards from VERY chilly NYC!