Saturday, 25 February 2017

Off Arab screens millions marched for women

T
HE position of Arab women is very much still fragile in many countries in the region. We are witnessing more and more young Arab girls lost in translation between what they are told are the ideas of a foreign culture and that of fundamental rights. Much of the atrocities that are committed towards Arab women occur partly because the victim does not know that she has a basic right for her body to be hers, for her privacy to be respected and for her education to be a necessity not a privilege she receives if it is financially possible after her brother has been educated. The education system is neglecting feminist teachings and has failed to highlight the importance of gender equality and the issues that need to be discussed and rectified with regard to achieving a harmonious culture where both sexes are perceived equal. This is when the media must pick up where schooling left off yet it is evident that the Arab media too is casting a blind eye on the issues pertaining to women’s rights and gender equality in the Arab world.


On a day when a massive number of women and men around the world rallied to bring forth these essential issues that not only affect people but entire countries’ moral and economic conditions most Arab news channels failed to broadcast the event. Now, if it were a small crowd in some part of the world one would give these channels the benefit of the doubt and assume that on this first day of Trump’s presidency eyes would be projected elsewhere. But how can a rally like the Women’s March that saw numbers exceeding projected expectations, backed up by powerful female celebrity names and infecting countries all over the world be ignored? The sheer magnitude of the march that closed roads and delayed transportation in major cities across the globe only reaffirmed the idea that Arab news channels intentionally ignored this movement. This rally for female solidarity that happened only once before in modern history, when the Suffragettes moved for the right to vote, and nothing like it has been seen since, did not register as important for these news stations to highlight. 

Our Arab mothers and sisters are suffering from injustices like domestic violence, sexual harassment, child marriages and honour killings, some are still fighting for their right to drive or travel without male custody therefore our powerful Arab media was not only expected to broadcast this particular one of a kind Women’s march it should have held panels to dissect the issues being brought forth in order for the Arab world to better understand that gender equality is not an idea that one believes in, it is a planned movement that requires an enormous effort on the part of both men and women to reach. This march was not about American women it was about all women, it portrayed an image of solidarity on a massive scale. It was a peaceful march that flowed like a sea of pink and it was glorious. For a woman like myself who at an early age was attuned to the injustices that the patriarchy had enforced on women and had spent many a sleepless night worried about the ways of this unbalanced world, watching the march, I could only wish my young eyes had witnessed something like this unfold, even if only to reassure me that I was not alone in my thoughts, that the actions my young mind deemed unfair were in fact so, and that the world as I knew it could in fact evolve. The more feminist readings one delves through the more you come to see that the movements have spread out and lost touch with one another, soon they had even started to fight amongst each other and it is at those times that one loses hope that a united front will ever be recovered from this wreckage of feminist ideas. The Women’s March had restored my faith as I am sure it has introduced the young generation to the new wave of feminism. A feminist movement that was made up of both sexes and all ages and creeds, one that did away with the arguments and stood arm in arm for a greater cause, a cause which the Arab media did not wish to project.


During the Egyptian revolution, it was quite evident that the women who organized and rallied against corrupt governments played a pivotal role in the future of Egypt, it was an example of the power of the female movement. The Women’s March did what it set out to do and that is to show the sheer magnitude of passion that the female voice can project and most importantly, for our future generations, it has shattered the falsity of the patriarch myth that women do not support other women. The Women’s March showed that women in fact do support their sisters and that men do too. This is an image that should be projected to the entire world so that all those who have had their rights taken away just because they were born of the opposite sex do not remain silent and so that all those who believe they have a right to deny someone their equal existence realise they are gravely mistaken. It is shameful that Arab television channels denied the Arab world from joining in the celebratory essence of this historic march for the Arab world has nothing to fear from the empowered Arab woman, it has everything to gain. 

This article was first published in The Gulf Today newspaper on 25 January, 2017
Arabic version appeared in Al Khaleej newspaper http://bit.ly/2jofQFE 

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