Sunday, August 25, 2013
The Voice of Arab Women Online
By: Ghada Al-Wazeer
For tens of years, women have used technology as a tool to speak up, end violence and call for equality. Before the Social Media evolution, seeing women struggling fighting for their rights was not as widely spread as it is now.
Women’s rights are being violated in different ways for many reasons such as governmental, religion, and sometimes even traditional practices that discriminate between men and women and encourage violence against them. This is one reason why women in the Arab world play a big role during the Arab spring protests and were recognized globally.
During, and especially after, the Arab Spring, an online environment and culture was created. This culture doesn’t tolerate discriminative practices against women; instead, it engages women from different countries and brings them together in solidarity. Many campaigns have been created in the intention of defending women’s rights in the Arab world such as the online campaign “The Uprising of Women in the Arab World”.
In October 2011, a women’s rights group had launched a social media campaign to promote women’s rights across the Arab world. Their first “Photo Campaign” was launched on October 1st, 2012 where both men and women were asked on different social media websites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to send pictures of themselves mentioning the reason why they support the uprising of women across the Arab world. According to their page, the campaign aimed to “Highlight the various kinds of discrimination against women in the Arab world (social, economic, political, judiciary…)” They say that being aware of the injustice towards women is the first step to counter it.
The campaign also aimed to “Pin out the facts that women in our region share many struggles. We [the members of the campaign] could then create a common ground for feminist activism, overcoming the borders of the states and building on from each other’s experiences.”
The campaign members also added that they intended to use social media as a tool to display women’s conditions, especially that women have suffered lots of attacks after the success of the revolts in the Arab Spring countries.
On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, “The Uprising of Women in the Arab World” Facebook page launched their second campaign “Tell Your Story”. The campaign remained from November 25 until December 10, 2012.
“Because the stories hidden under our pillows need to come out in the open
Because the only finger of blame should be pointed at the aggressor, not the victim
Because the scandal is in the criminal act, not the victim’s reputation
Because our silence is a self-inflicted punishment and an impunity to our aggressor
Because we have to step out of the circle of fear and isolation into the circle of confidence and confrontation
Because almost each one of us has endured a form of physical, psychological or sexual violence, just for being a woman: an arbitrary deprivation of liberty, or a sexual harassment (at home, at school, at work, in the streets…), rape (including marital rape), female genital mutilation, forced marriage (including marriage of minors), crimes in the name of “honor”…”
“The Uprising of women in the Arab world” is one example of the many campaigns inspired by the use of social media in the revolutions of the Arab Spring. Today their Facebook page has over 115,000 likes from people across the world. Such initiatives, serve as a place for women and men to express themselves and discuss their concerns openly and freely.