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October Food 4 Thought: “Protests, Garbage, and…Gender?!”

“Protests, Garbage, and…Gender?!” was the topic we discussed in our Food 4 Thought session for the month of October. Our guest speaker, As-Safir journalist Saada Allaw, joined us on October 26 and October 29, in Beirut and Byblos, to talk about women’s activism and the role women are playing in light of the recent protests, civil disobedience, and garbage crisis in Lebanon.

While showing photos of Lebanese women’s social and political activism from the 80s until today, Ms. Allaw went through the different milestones women had to go through to achieve equality and eliminate discrimination against them in several areas. Examples include: securing the right to vote and the right to benefit from the social security system, annulment of an article related to honor crimes, increasing the duration of the maternity leave (from 7 weeks to 10 weeks in April 2014), securing the right to travel without needing the permission of the husband, and last but not least, passing in parliament in April 2014 the bill on “The Protection of Women and Family Members Against Domestic Violence”. Herself a researcher and civil society activist, Ms. Allaw emphasized that the participation of Lebanese women in street protests is not something new: “Lebanese women have always been on the front lines during the war”, “demanding warlords to stop the war, and to know about the fate of their kidnapped while men were fighting”. As she added, “they did not only fight for women’s issues, but also for national social and political demands”.

In both talks the students enjoyed the humble, engaging personality and first-hand accounts by Ms. Allaw who shared personal anecdotes about her childhood, her experience as an activist in the recent protests, and some of her personal encounters with politicians and members of the parliaments that revealed their perception of (and often bias against ) women’s issues.

More details about the Food 4 Thought sessions are found in this LAU News article.

 Byblos_Web.jpgSaada Allaw showing pictures of Lebanese women from the 80’s

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Students enjoying the personal anecdotes of Ms. Allaw about her experience as an activist in the recent protests

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