Director’s Update: September 2018

We’re fully into fall! As the meme says: Our favorite season is the fall of the patriarchy!

One of our first events this fall was a performance called “Taa Sakina” in collaboration with LAU’s Department of Communication Arts. “Taa Sakina” follows the stories of twelve women at the Abbasiya Psychiatric Hospital in Egypt dealing with mental health issues. The play was followed by a panel discussion informed by experts and fueled by student questions.

For International Day of Peace on 21 September, we talked about how including women in the peace building process is the key to stability and progress in the region. We said:

Women are pivotal to peace, and peace has to be viewed from the lens of the women. If it is not – which happens often – it renders peace meaningless… So we need to understand both conflict and peace from a gendered perspective, and what “peace” means for women.

We hosted Libyan activist and academic Khadija Elboaishi as part of our monthly Food 4 Thought speaking series. She told us about the lives of Libyan women between laws and reality after the revolution. Ms. Elboaishi is part of the Leaders for Democracy Fellowship (LDF) program placed at IWSAW.

For Equality 4 Everyone, our project on behalf of the US-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), we conducted workshops with CSOs in Lebanon on strategic planning, advocacy, lobbying, and collation building. We also hosted a workshop on portrayals of women in the media with youth activists and student clubs from LAU and other Lebanese universities.

Last month I told you all about our ground-breaking training for Miss Lebanon pageant contestants – the first time Miss Lebanon contestants have received training on gender equality, redefining beauty standards, connecting the beauty industry to patriarchy, and other critical topics. IWSAW was invited to the event itself – and we’re releasing an Occasional Paper this month to assess the experience. Watch this space!

This update comes to you all from New York, where I’ve been attending events for the 73rd annual United Nations General Assembly. UNGA brings world leaders together at UN Headquarters to discuss global issues. This year’s theme is “Making the United Nations relevant to all people: global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies”, and the events will honor two African leaders and legends: South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and Ghana’s Kofi Annan.

I’m also in New York for SheDecides, the movement that supports the right of every woman and girl to decide what she wants to do with her own body and life. I’m honored to be on the Guiding Group and to amplify this critical movement in the Arab region.

And, while in the US, we’ve been glued to our screens as we witness the courageous Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee – and the entire world! - about her accusation that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. It’s about time the world believes women, believes survivors.

At IWSAW we are committed to doing whatever it takes to end violence against women. We’d like to see this become a reality in our lifetime!

In solidarity,

Lina