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Archive for January, 2012

Something Phenomenal in Women’s Sexual Freedom

by Nadine Moawad

When the topic of “taboos” surfaces in our region, what immediately comes to mind are all issues related to sexu- ality. Then the question becomes, “whose responsibility is it to address such taboos?” My answer: all of us, yours and mine together. I have been working on sexual rights in the Middle East and North Africa for the past four years. Most people are not aware of it, but there is a large and growing movement for sexual rights happening beneath the surface of all other movements, including the feminist movement. One promi- nent actor in this field is the Coalition of Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies, which was founded in 2001. As member organizations of this coalition, we organize an annual event “One Day, One Struggle” to highlight diverse aspects of sexuality across our countries. Feminist activists often tell me, “You know, we don’t know any lesbians, we don’t know any people who have been raped, we don’t know women who want abortions; they are not part of our circle.” Truth is, they are very much part of our circle. The big question, especially for the well-established feminists in the Arab region, is will Arab feminism embrace sexual rights or not? Unless it does, it will never find those masses of women who are sexually oppressed. They will never come to talk to a movement that doesn’t want to work with them. A bigger question is will we, as an Arab feminist move- ment, embrace sexuality as an integral part of women’s rights in an intelligent way or will we continue to embrace it only from a convenient angle? We often hear the same excuses, “now is not the time,” or “we will lose other more basic gains if we push for sexual rights.” Other excuses we also hear are, “these are not really feminist issues” or “nobody will work with us, they will think we are promot- ing promiscuity and lewdness.” These excuses come at the expense of millions of women – yes millions – who are suffering from marginalization, silencing, exclusion, self-degradation, and alienation from our movement. And a movement that does not include all women and all of their issues is no movement at all. It is an elitist club and its achievements will be lacking. Let us start with examining what sexual rights are. For me, the very simple short definition of sexual rights is SOmeThing phenOmenal in WOmen’S Sexual freedOm that every human being, especially women, has the right to have a wonderful sex life, healthy and great sex, and the freedom that eliminates all taboos related to sexuality from people’s minds. That is the essence of what we mean when we talk about sexual rights: people’s right to have great sex whenever they want to. Of course, that definition makes people very uncomfortable, because it feels like something that doesn’t belong in a “respectable” move- ment like our women’s movement. But let me explain what I mean. When we talk about the right to freedom from sexual violence, rape, harassment and incest-all important issues that the women’s movement addresses- then we are talking about people’s right to have better sex. If you’re harassed, if you’re raped, if you’re scared of sex, if in your mind it’s something dirty and disgusting and terrible and you’re worried about it all the time, you’re not going to have a good sex life. You’re going to have a bad sex life. We also talk about the right of people to choose their sexual partner. This is extremely important. If you can choose who you want to have sex with, you’re going to have better sex. If it’s not limited by someone from your religion, from your country, from the opposite sex, and from someone that your parents agreed to, odds are that you’re going to have better sex. If you can choose to identify with the gender that you want, like if I don’t feel like a woman and I want to change my body or I want to identify like a man, that means I’m going to have better sex that is more expressive of who I am. If I have access to birth control, to contraception, to a healthy sexual education in school, and if I can learn about sex from a qualified teacher instead of from pornography, I will have a better sex life. Girls and boys from our entire region are learning about sex through pornographic websites, which are the most visited websites across countries, according to web statistics. Sexual rights are about our human right to have great sex lives. When my friends hear this, they always ask me: why is it so important for people to have great sex? In comparison to food, shelter, security, peace, democracy, and all of these more important moralistic issues, they say sexual rights are not that important. You cannot convince me, they say, that the right to a good sex life is more important than these more “basic” human rights. Lately, I have decided that my friends are actually right: sexual rights are not as important. I can live without great sex but I can’t live without food. I will die without food, I will die when there is war, and I will die without shelter. Maybe I won’t die from not having great sex all the time. I agree to that. But if sexual rights are not so important, then why is it such a huge – the hugest in fact – taboo of an issue? Why won’t those in power give us our sexual rights? Why are we not even allowed to talk about it? It doesn’t make any sense! If I want to buy a table and I say “I want this table and I want this chair with it” and some- one says to me “this chair is not important, we’ll talk about it later. This table is more important right now.” Then I say “so give me the chair if it’s so unimportant!” If the right to great sex is not that big of a deal, then why do you think they are so hooked on us not even talking about it? Ask yourselves that question. The only possible answer is that there must be something huge, something phenomenal in women’s sexual freedom that those in power hold on to it so strongly. There must be something extremely liberating in it that they fight to keep it oppressed with blood, lives, invasions and wars. There must be something huge in our bodies that they feel they need to control. That is why they need to wrap it in morality claims, like honor, virtue, goodness and righteousness. No, my friends, we do not measure the significance of human rights by how much we need them to survive. We measure them by how strongly those in power oppose them. Judging by how strongly our societies, religions and states oppress sexual rights, there must be something incredibly powerful about them. We must then be even more stubborn in demanding them. If we rid sexual rights from the taboos that engulf them, we will find that there really isn’t anything horrific in demanding sexual rights for our women. What is the big deal? What is the big deal about me being a lesbian? This, I have never understood. What is the big deal about women having sex outside of marriage? Really, what’s going to collapse? That’s the question you need to ask yourselves rather than asking whether it’s “the right time to talk about these issues.” I have come to understand sexuality gradually as I talked to more women concerned with it. We each try to understand it in our own way. Today’s generation, I promise you, is formulating different ways of understanding sexuality all over the Arab world. They might not be talking to you or to your organizations, but they’re out there and they’re talking amongst each other. There’s one big word that I have come to understand as key and that is the word I want to leave you with today. It is a word that we need to insert into our feminist discourse in the region: heteronormativity, the idea that the heterosexual is normal. That’s the problem and the complexity that we need to insert into our discourse when we talk about occupation, capitalism, sexism, fundamentalism, and all these issues. What’s missing in our region is dialogue about heteronormativity, how if you look a certain way, you are a woman, if you look another way, you are not. If you’re not a heternormative couple comprised of an older man with a younger woman, of the same religion with two children, and so forth, then you are not normal. Heteronormativity, as an underlying under- standing of gender stereotypes that we are raised with, is extremely powerful because it feeds all the other evils. And that is why those in power hold on to it so strongly, thus suppressing sexual rights. They need heteronormativity to fuel their patriarchy. Think of advertising without heteronormativity. Who are they going to market Ariel, Persil and Fairy (detergents and soap companies) to? Who will they market to if there isn’t a strong man who needs ties and sports gear, or little children who need blue or pink outfits? How are we going to manage our family household economies without heter- onormativity? How will religion propagate so fundamen- tally without the heteronormative family and the institution of marriage? How will they scare human beings from each other? How will they keep women in their pre-scripted role as wife, mother, housewife, and daughter? How will they hold on to wars, nations, states and all of these structures that they have built? The truth is that big huge structures are going to fall. People are always afraid that society will dissolve if people have their sexual freedom. If gays and lesbians start walking the streets, society will collapse. It is true; let us not apologize for it. Concepts and systems are going to collapse. Morals, values and systems that we hold on to so dearly, and systems that we have lived in for hundreds of years are going to fly out of the window. And I say: Good Riddance. Let them crumble. Let virginity fly out of the window. Let things like purity and chastity and heteronor- mativity and gender stereotyping and obedience and what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a man, and what it means to be in love, let that all crumble and disap- pear. Good riddance. Not everything is going to change. It’s not like we are going to suddenly start killing each other. But we will, and it is a fact, start looking at honor differently, at faith differently, at God differently, at love, at family, at companionship, at friendship, at our countries, at all of these issues, we will start looking at them differently. And I think it’s time we stopped being afraid to embrace the great fall of all of this oppression. Nadine Moawad is a feminist activist based in Beirut, Lebanon with a background in Philosophy. She is one of the founders of Nasawiya, a feminist collective and Meem, a queer / trans community. She also recently started Take Back the Tech Arabia with the objective of bringing feminist perspectives into the usage, understanding, and programming of technology. She blogs about feminist and political developments in Lebanon on nadinemoawad.com.

Source:

http://www.globalfundforwomen.org/donate-now/telling-our-stories/1977-something-phenomenal-in-womens-sexual-freedom

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Dear Readers,

Kindly find below the latest issue of the Middle East & North Africa Gender and Development e-Brief (No 116)

Please note that the MENA Gender and Development e-Brief is posted on line on the following URLM:http://crtda.org.lb/webfm_send/443

Best regards,
CRTD.A / IRIS

 

The Middle East &North Africa
“Gender and Development E-Brief”
Issue #116
January 2012

NEWS & ARTICLES

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GENDER ACTIVISM

Call for Signatures for Greater Political Representation of Women in Libya

Advocacy for Right to Nationality – Women, Husbands, Children in Jordan

Egyptian Women: Performing in the Margin, Revolting in the Centre

Activists demand equal citizenship rights for women

Hundreds of Lebanese men and women march against rape

New Arab Woman Forum takes on Arab Spring

ZOOMING ON ARAB SPRING
Arab Spring, Islamist Summer…Feminist Fall?

Zooming on Arab Spring Consequences
Will the Arab Spring Backfire on Women?
Women’s voices must be heard during times of transitions and reform

GENDER & HUMAN RIGHTS
Prime Minister May Support Abortion for Rape, Incest In Morocco
Why Women are at the Heart of Egypt’s Political Trials and Tribulations
Saudi women to run, vote without male approval
Universities are the first test for Tunisian secularism
Having a Conversation on Other Terms: Gender and the Politics of Representation the New Moroccan Government

GENDER BASED VIOLENCE

Campaign Against Draft Law on Male Heritage Nationality on Lebanon

Beirut bar cancels event inviting guests to dress as domestic workers

Conflict, Pain & Loss, Mother’s Tears in Iraq

Gender-Based Violence – Call for Justice – Study in Southern Sudan

Revolution hasn’t made Egypt safer for women

RESOURCES

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BOOKS AND REPORTS

2011 UN Millennium Development Goals Report – Gender

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The MENA Gender and Development e-Brief receives material from various sources for its publication. Should you wish to refer to these sources/ sites directly, the list includes publications from: AVIVA, www.aviva.org, AWID: www.awid.org, Democracy Digest: www.freedomhouse.org, Development Gateway: www.developmentgatway.org, Dignity: www.dignity.org, e-Civicus: www.civicus.org, Eldis: www.eldis.org, ESCWA: www.escwa.org.lb, GDB: www.developmentex.com, Global Knowledge Partnership: www.globalknowledge.org, IGTN: www.IGTN.org, ILO: www.ilo.org One World: www.oneworld.net, Siyanda: www.siyanda.org, The Daily Star: www.dailystar.com.lb, The Drum Beat: www.comminit.com, The Soul Beat: www.comminit.com, The World Bank: www.worldbank.org, UNDP: www.undp.org, Wicejilist: www.wicej.addr.com, WLP: www.learningpartnership.org; WIDE: www.wide-network.org; IRIN News: www.irinnews.org, Women’s UN Report Network: www.wunrn.com, Women Living Under Muslim Laws: www.wluml.org

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National Office Receptionist- World Vision Lebanon

MAJOR TASKS:
– Receive people and provide them with first assistance.
– Greet visitors in a professional and courteous manner and notify the relevant employee
– Ensure that the reception area, conference room, external entrance are kept neat and tidy, so as to maintain a good image of the organization.
– Handle and transfer all incoming calls, insuring that calls are answered effectively.
– Handle the process of distributing incoming and outgoing mail / courier (DHL, Libanpost, etc.)
– Coordinate the conference rooms schedule
– Responsible for registering, typing, sending, distributing copies and filing all outgoing mail, faxes as needed
– Help in typing reports, circulars, etc. as assigned.
– Update World Vision staff directory, calendar of events, and staff trainings schedule on a regular basis.
– Prepare photocopies and send faxes when required
– Liaise with the taxi company to request taxi pick-up for staff and visitors when required
– Maintain the storage of the kitchen and hygiene supplies monitoring the quality/ quantity, and make new orders when required.
– Receive invoices related to World Vision Lebanon operations and administration and charging expenses to relevant departments such as taxi invoices, courier invoices, stationary invoices, etc.
– Maintain the storage of the stationery and place orders as the need arises from different departments monitoring the quality/ quantity.
– Enter and update the library books, magazine, DVD, video and tape records.
– Maintain records of books, magazines, DVDs, videos and tapes received, stored and returned and file catalogue cards according to used system.

EDUCATION / SKILLS REQUIREMENTS:
Education Diploma in a field related to administration and secretarial support services.

Knowledge and Skills:
– Excellent written English, with good command of spoken Arabic and English.
– Good interpersonal and written and oral communication skills.
– Good organizational skills; ability to manage and prioritize tasks.
– Computer literate with a high degree of proficiency and productivity.

Experience:
At least two years experience in a similar related job

EMPLOYMENT TYPE: Regular Full Time

Deadline: Friday, Feb 3 – 2012

— Qualified candidates are requested to send their CV to the following fax number or e-mail address: Fax number: 00 961 4 401982 e-mail address: cv@worldvision.org.lb

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The 2012 TechWomen Application is Now

Open!

The TechWomen initiative will identify approximately 42 women who are emerging leaders in technology sectors for a five-week program, including project-based mentorships at leading companies in California, workshops, networking events, a conference, and meetings in Washington, D.C.

Participants will be women engaged or rising in professional careers that require significant expertise/knowledge of technology and/or innovative application of these skills, and who already are – or show promise of being – role models for others in their countries, particularly for women. “Technology” should be interpreted broadly to include – but not be limited to – the fields of science, education, and business.

Eligibility Criteria

An applicant must:

  • Be a woman with a minimum of two years full-time professional experience in technology sectors and/or a career requiring significant expertise/knowledge of technology and/or innovative application of these skills
  • Have, at minimum, a university degree
  • Be proficient in written and spoken English
  • Demonstrate a willingness to participate in exchange programs, welcome opportunities for mentoring and new partnership development, and exhibit confidence and maturity
  • Be citizens or permanent residents of Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Tunisia or Yemen at the time of application, and while participating in the program
  • Not have applied for an immigrant visa to the United States, or participated in a visa lottery in the past five years
  • Be able to obtain a U.S. visa
  • Not hold U.S. Citizenship or be a U.S. legal permanent resident

Preference will be given to applicants who:

  • Have demonstrated themselves as emerging leaders in technology
  • Have an advanced degree, especially in a technical field
  • Have limited or no prior experience in the United States
  • Have a record of voluntary or public service in their communities

Deadline For Submission: February 15, 2012

The deadline for submitting TechWomen applications is 23:59 Cairo time, February 15, 2012. Finalists will be contacted via email for in-country interviews in March, April and May 2012. All applicants will be notified of the results of their applications; final decisions will be made in June 2012.

If you have questions about the program, or the application process, please contact us at techwomen@iie.org or Tel: +1-415-362-6520 (Ext. 257) Fax: +1-415-392-4667.

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2012 MEPI Student Leaders Program – Deadline February 13, 2012

The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Student Leaders Program is a fully-funded, six-week intensive leadership training program in the United States for undergraduate students between the ages of 18-24.

Participants will attend one of six U.S. colleges and universities and will develop leadership and collective problem-solving skills while exploring U.S. history and culture in order to expand their leadership skills and promote democratic principles in their home countries.

The program will last from June 26 to August 7, 2012 and will consist of two components.  The first component is a five-week academic residency that includes comparative analysis of leadership styles, conflict resolution and group dynamics, the role of civil society in the democratic process, and change management.  The second component is a one-week educational study tour designed to complement and reinforce the concepts explored in the academic residency.

Students will also participate in an alumni conference held in the Middle East or North Africa in early 2013.  The costs of the program and the alumni conference, including travel expenses for the alumni selected to participate, will be fully covered.

Eligibility Requirements

Ideal candidates:

  • Are age 18-24 as of June 1, 2012;
  • Demonstrate English language ability;
  • Are committed to returning to Lebanon following completion of the program;
  • Demonstrate strong leadership potential;
  • Indicate serious interest in learning about the United State;
  • Have a sustained level of academic achievement;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to civic engagement;
  • Have no prior travel experience to the United States, and limited or no study or travel experience outside Lebanon;
  • Are willing and able to participate fully in the program;
  • Are comfortable with campus life, sharing living accommodations while traveling with a multinational group, and adjusting to cultural and social practices different from Lebanon; and
  • Comfortable with spending a portion of Ramadan in the U.S.

Participant must be a Lebanese citizen or long-term Palestinian resident, living in Lebanon, and attending school in Lebanon.

Applications:

Click here to download the Word document application form (278 Kb) or the PDF application form (176 Kb).

Applications are due to the U.S. Embassy by February 13, 2012 – late submissions will not be considered

Applications can be hand-delivered to the U.S. Embassy in Awkar or submitted electronically to BeirutPD@state.gov

If you decide to submit the application electronically, please fill out the application form, sign it, scan it and send it to the above mentioned e-mail address.

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BEIRUT: A bar in the neighborhood of Gemmayzeh has canceled an event, originally scheduled for this Friday, which invited guests to dress up as migrant domestic workers for the chance to win $100.

Event details encouraged bar-goers to, “this Friday night, be Sinkara or Milenga … be Soumatra or Domma … create your own maid costume, speak like them and look like a Philippino [sic], Bengladish [sic], Sri Lanka [sic] or any maid you want and definitely win 100 U.S. dollars in cash.”

The details of the event were originally posted late Tuesday evening on the bar’s Facebook group. A Lebanese organization, the Anti-Racism Movement, then reposted the event on its blog, which soon drew much online criticism. The owner of the bar then removed all details of the event.

Speaking to The Daily Star Wednesday, the owner denied that the event was in any way racist. “You just put on a costume, it was supposed to be for fun. Some people misunderstood it and thought it was racist.”

On the emphasis on foreign nationalities in the posting, she said “We hadn’t meant it in that way at all. You didn’t have to dress as a foreigner, you could have just put on an apron and dressed as your mom.”

“We took the event down after two hours, as we realized people had misinterpreted it.”

Farah Salka, of the Anti-Racism Movement, called it one of the most shocking recent examples of racism that she has seen.

“I see examples of it all the time, but with this, I was just like ‘wow.’”

While happy that the event was removed so quickly, Salka said she was disappointed the owner had not apologized for posting it in the first place.

“I would love to buy her explanation that it was not intentionally racist, but how can it not be? When you are categorizing the 250,000 migrant domestic workers in this country as ‘them:’ Who is ‘them’?”

The event details also equated the $100 award for the best costume with the salary maids receive, writing: “They … work all the month to get it,” but that bar-goers could claim the same amount back by “imitat[ing] them and win it in some few comedy moments.” Salka said this was “completely insensitive.”

It is time, Salka added, for a redefining of the word “racist” in Lebanon. “We need to revise the definition. Even the smallest details can be racist,” she said.
Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2012/Jan-26/161107-beirut-bar-cancels-event-inviting-guests-to-dress-as-domestic-workers.ashx#ixzz1kdgAuCwZ

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a great memo by the nationality campaign team has been released;

Saudi arabian women now can now transmit their nationality to their own children, Lebanse women are still not able and FORBIDDEN to transmit their nationality to their family children and husbands….D I S C R I M I N  A T I O N….

in the cedar land is “natural”???? !!!!

bayan by the nationality campaign in Lebanon

 

 

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