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A small sample of the revolution

I’m sitting in Beirut airport after a whirlwind week. This was a trip delayed several times due to the ongoing revolution, an exciting and historic time for long-overdue change in Lebanon.

If you don’t know, this popular uprisings began on 17 October 2019 with masses taking to the streets to protest government policies, corruption, discrimination, the sectarian system, and everything else that has held Lebanon down for decades.

Lebanon – we are at last awake.

Lebanon – a country that too often looks longingly backwards, glorifying the past. Not the Paris of the Middle East – we are our own beast, a chaotic and charming place, challenging to describe, sometimes difficult to love, but impossible to let go. We have stopped comparing to countries seemingly “superior”. Maybe we finally know who we are.- and what we deserve.

Lebanon is at last awake – and staying awake.

Women have been on the frontlines of this inspiring movement since its onset, articulating clear demands for nationality rights, protection from violence, and full rights and representation, all while also creating iconic moments like the woman kicking the soldier – now a symbol of the revolution.

The AiW Team has been on the frontlines as well – marching, chanting, holding hands with women – and men – across the country.

And I’ve been in the office – working to raise money. It took a few months of bookings, cancellations, rebooking – but I finally made it back. It had been too long.

I caught a taste of our thawra, our revolution, and it made a lasting impact. Here’s what I want to say…

It is not surprising – and extremely well documented – that women lead these revolutions everywhere. In Lebanon women have been the force, the fuel, the fire of this call for change. This SCREAM for change. Obviously, women stand to gain a great deal from these changes. And women suffer most in times of conflict and insecurity. So here we go again – this story repeats.

So – let’s give these women what they need to keep going so history does not repeat itself. Let’s give them the tools and resources and support and exposure they deserve to get this job done. Women will fix Lebanon – if we let them.

And yet – it is precisely at the moment where funding is most needed that it is least available.

Where is the money?! We keep asking each other. Women’s rights has been undermined for too long – not by conflict or “culture” or any overused argument, but by donors themselves who spew rhetoric without substance. And without substantive support.

I’m going to keep howling into the void about this until someone somewhere wakes up. Here’s one howl:

And yes the money is there. When we care. What do we really care about? And what do we ignore?! Here’s one thing:

Meanwhile, Lebanon spirals downward. The country grows more poor. The people grow more tired. And more angry. The streets erupt into occasional violence – I saw the breaking of bank windows, the smashing of ATM machines, the vandalism of the Central Bank.

Where is the money?! They are asking too.

And the violence – it is contained. For now. This is how it starts. Maybe we should all review those early warning indicators we claim to understand.

Donors – wake the $@&? up.

And Lebanese women – they keep fighting. And when they are told “Not now, girls”, they say “No! It is precisely now.” It has always been now.

So this is our now moment. Who is paying attention? Where is the international media?! Oh I know, they’re hoping to catch a soundbite from Carlos.

Media – wake the $@?& up.

And the money doesn’t come. And the media doesn’t come. And we let Lebanon down – again. And we fail women.

I for one will not allow that to happen.

Will you?

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