An extended meeting brought me last week with a number of Arab ladies, namely: Head of the Arab Women’s Forum, Malika Shaker (Morocco), President of African Asian Women’s Organization, Ahlam Al-Mahdi (The Sudan), Vice-President of the World Amazigh Congress, Amani Al-Washahi (Egypt) in a dialogue session on origins and identities… Why Now?
The eminent Lebanese media personality, Nada Abdul-Samad has invited us over her weekly program (Duniana) that was aired from Cairo on the BBC. What made this gathering distinctive that it was not subjected to any kind of formal arrangements; as those confined by specific questions addressed to guests who are to prepare their responses within a fixed time-frame. Instead, Nada, who supports the principle of women’s participation in expressing opinion on public affairs and away from gender bias, has gave us a free space for our suggestions and ample time for aspects we sought to discuss in relation to issues at hand in our countries. Before the show started, we got to know each other and engaged in a joint discussion, as we exchanged our views concerning the present-day conditions, their underlying causes and that what we’ve considered to be as merely temporary calls permitted by the atmospheres of the opening-up and self-declaration that were long subjected to exclusion for decades.
Before the end of the program, Nada Abdul-Samad, the show host spared a time-slot to tackle the issue of origins and identities that lowered the barrier of formalities and smoothed over our serious discussions. We all agreed on the importance of the realization of democracy and citizenship principles which provides the opportunity for anyone wishing to express himself and his culture and identity. This special TV spot addressed the commonalities and differences in relation to the customs and traditions of the Amazigh, Tebu and Tuareg components. I guess I’m going to leave any further elaboration on the debate we had for the coming air broadcast which is to set platform for stakeholders to offer their comments and feedback on the matter on historical, political and sociological terms.
Lately, through my media engagements in a number of local and Arab programs concerned with women’s participation and their voice in the public affair, I have noticed that the media discourse targeting women has experienced a ‘substantive’ and ‘performance-based’ transformation. What I mean by substantive is that what’s being promoted via audio-visual programs, electronic and written newspapers and magazines is no longer locked into a particular orbit merely focusing on beauty, make-up, fashion, cuisine, and how to choose a spouse or home furniture! I meant by ‘performance-based’ that show hosts and guests started appear to have, to a large extent, a deep interest and concern in current issues raised and a forward-looking to female roles in the society that is evolving and trying to keep pace with the changes going on in the world.
On the other hand, the immense outstanding women’s public presence in mass media and satellite channels, not to mention their excessive appearance of female broadcasters on TV news and political, social and economic programs channels, all greatly contributed in providing ample opportunity to have their voices heard and to reflect their skills and expertise in global and Arab affairs as well as issues on domestic public fronts concerning our home countries. Moreover, female news reporters, most recently, appeared in ‘on-the-spot’ reports and everyday street news. We’ve also got them on points of tension and war zones.
Perhaps what backed-up and supported that leap were all those Charters, covenants, declarations and resolutions dealing with women’s issues wherever she is, in war and peace issued by international organizations. Foremost among which is the United Nations that have established UN-Women in 2001 to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment. Decades before that, The Commission on the Status of Women was established, which is a technical commission the ad hoc of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
All of the above aforementioned movements and interactions made such leapfrog a real necessity, reflected in women-oriented media through presentation of ideas, schemes, and critical debate, besides defending their rights in active involvement with their other half.
With our recent situations where extremist thinking has attempted to isolate and alienate women, this necessity becomes an overriding imperative.
by Fatma Abdula Ghandur, Al-Bawabh News(Libya)
February 4, 2018