It’s September (already?!) – and we’re back to work. Did we stop working!? Probably not. Like I just wrote in my monthly update:
There’s no holiday for human rights defenders and social change activists… at least not until we’ve achieved equality, right?!
Every so often I have to write about this amazing little Institute and what we’re up to. We’re small – but strong. And it’s a story worth sharing.
Here’s the thing: it will take the Arab region 157 years to achieve gender equality. And to achieve economic equality, Arab women need to wait 580 years. Five-hundred and eighty years!
I hope you all out there are committed to accelerating this. At the Institute, we’re impatient – and absolutely refuse to wait that long. After all, we’ve been working for equality for generations already!
You’ve heard this story before… The Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World is 45-years old. Our origins date back to the 1830s and an American missionary who wanted to set up a school for girls. This evolved into a junior college for women and eventually a co-ed university – the Lebanese American University – where we now sit. So, we’ve been around since 1973 – honoring that legacy and (re)committing to equality, empowerment, and education for women and girls.
All this coming from the Arab region, a part of the world perceived as backwards. OK, I won’t deny that we’re “backwards” in lots of ways – or, rather, very far behind – but there’s progress! Globally we’re not doing that great either. Even in supposedly-progressive countries we’re seeing a backlash against women’s rights and fundamental freedoms. Just look at the US!
We know the mess we’re in – globally speaking. And there are people working to fix this crap. We won’t wait for equality to come to us – we’re doing whatever it takes to bring it to life – in our lifetime!
Everyone has a role – even a little academic institute like ours! We do the traditional academic-y things, and we get to do some cool and kooky stuff as well – all in the same of equality and empowerment.
Obviously, it’s the unconventional bits that I love… our animated song on gender equality – In My Hand, our annual student video competition for the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women, that kind of stuff. Check out the winners for 2017 and 2016 to get a sense of what power and potential this holds: Misplaced Guilt and Covering Up. Young people here are doing some courageous stuff. And there’s our training for Miss Lebanon. Lots of cool things.
September always brings renewed energy and lots of chaos. Here we go!