Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘No women representation

Women need solidarity: Save your “to be saved” in your heart

“You were born with wings, why are you crawling through life?” Jalaluddin Rumi

Women in Yemen and in States that are repressing the rights of women demand your solidarity: They don’t care to be saved. They are the ones saving whatever remains in dignity in these obscurantist states. Arab women do not need “saving”, just your consistent solidarity.

I stumbled on a link womanfromyemen.blogspost.com, and this is one of the posts:

“In Cairo last week, an Egyptian organization held a conference entitled “Women Empowerment“. The conference was tackling a variety of topics including corruption, trafficking, gender based violence, gender wage gaps, and sexual violence.
The case studies and speakers focused mostly on Western countries and the problems women face there, highlighting Christianity as the impediment to gender equality.
The surprising aspect of this conference is that none of the similar violations in the Middle East or Muslim countries were discussed. This shocked one of the attendees who said that these issues are not strictly “Western” and they are found all over the globe.
Indeed violation of women rights are a global problem.
I ask you to look at the previous paragraph and substitute the word “Egyptian” with “International“, the word “Western” with “Arab or Muslim” and “Christianity” with “Islam“.
Would you still be shocked by such a conference? Majority of people would not, because that kind of tone has become the norm today. [The first conference I mention above in Cairo did not really take place, I was just flipping the situation around to make a point].
Since the start of the Yemeni uprising, many activists have been invited to a number of conferences to discuss the revolution, women’s rights or the Arab spring. Many have taken this as an opportunity to focus on issues often neglected in main stream media, and to correct some of the misunderstandings.
But lately, a few international conferences on women’s rights made these female activists feel really uncomfortable during the discussions, as the focus was on “saving” women in Arab or Muslim majority countries, as if they are the only women suffering from gender inequality.

activists are not denying that there are a number of obstacles facing women in many of the Arab countries, and I have myself written extensively on this, but that does not mean that women in democratic nations do not have to struggle as well, and it also does not mean that there are no positives in our culture.

The way women’s situation is sometimes discussed today is reminiscent of colonial rhetoric about “saving” women from oppression and the need to “educate” these women (with the superiority it implies).

While in the past it was based on religious superiority, today it’s from a secular perspective but with similar undertones.

In many international conferences, photographs of Muslim women are often the icon for oppression and the focus is on religious interpretations and cultural traditions only, failing at taking a look into the history of oppressive regimes that have long neglected gender equality.

Too often, conferences only highlight cultural and religious reasons for women’s oppression and forget to also indulge in discussion on history and political developments. As Professor Lila Abu-Lughod wrote:

the question is why knowing about the “culture” of the region, and particularly its religious beliefs and treatment of women, was more urgent than exploring the history of the development of repressive regimes in the region.”

This unfortunately turns the discussion into a polarized East v. West, rather than a worldwide struggle for women. I am not someone who believes in the dichotomy between “East” and “West” because I believe in the human spirit, in the fact that we all share common beliefs, goals and aspirations clothed in different cultural traditions, but the essence remains the same.

I do not like when things are reduced to such measures, and I find it to be counterproductive as many people respond with reactionary views simply to hide their wounded pride.

When conducting such events, organizers should pay attention to the tone of the discussion and it is imperative for women leaders around the world to emphasize Solidarity – as many international groups already do –  through partnerships and exchange of ideas, of stories of struggles and lessons learned from all over the globe.

Note 1: No women representation? https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/no-women-representation-the-arab-league-represents-half-the-arabs-who-is-hoda-sultan-sha3rawi/

Note 2: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/women-can-shatter-your-autistic-sexual-perception-of-love/

photo taken from (http://www.ruthinstitute.org/uploaded_images/women-of-the-world-unite!-742297.jpg)Note:Check womanfromyemen.blogspost.com

No women representation? “The Arab League represents half the Arabs…”: Who is Hoda Sha3rawi?

In “Letters from Egypt, 1863“, the British Lucie Duff-Gordon wrote that the Christian copt of higher Egypt were far more stringent in wearing the veil than the Moslem women.

Wearing the veil was a symbol of higher social status, regardless of religion, even in the Arabic Peninsula during the Prophet Muhammad time.

Wearing the veil was a tradition inherited from the strict Christian Byzantium Empire that ruled the Near East from 325 AC to 650.

Summer 1923 was a turning point for women liberation in Egypt:  Hoda Shaarawi was returning from a women conference in Rome, and stepped out of a train in Cairo.  As she landed, Hoda removed her veil and threw it on the ground saying: “No more veil”.

Her companion Saiza Nabarawi imitated the gesture and all the women waiting in the train station followed suit.

Note 1:  The Arab League does not represent the “Arabs”.

It represent the stability of the regimes of dictators and absolute monarchs.  With the fall of the oligarchies in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya…we expect the representatives to the League of the “liberated States” to be capable and acknowledge the engaged women.

The “Arab States” will be democratic or not, depending on the engaged women.  We expect the women representatives not to be exclusively the mouth speakers of their respective governments, but to shoulder the aspiration of all women, according to the UN definition of human rights, and human development indicators, and be the vanguard to what is meant by democracy, fair and equitable election laws…

Note 2:  Article inspired from the French book “12 women of the Orient who changed history” by Gilbert Sinoue.  I have reviewed a book on Hoda Shaarawi by another author (maybe Fatima Mernisi)

Note 3:  Iqbal, mother of Hoda and second wife to Muhammad Sultan, was Circassian by origin (from the Caucasus region). Russia invaded the Caucasus to expand on the detriment of the Ottoman Empire.

Iqbal was sent to Istanbul and at the age of 10 was dispatched to Cairo,  Her uncle Youssef Sabri was a military officer, but the wife of her uncle refused to admit this poor relative.  Consequently, Iqbal was raised by relatives of her mother.

Iqbal was behind Hoda getting education and enjoying liberty for expressing opinions and getting involved.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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