Celebrating International Women’s Day, Nasawiya Style

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This year too, our friends at the Beirut-based Arab feminist collective Nasawiya have decided to take their International Women’s Day (IWD) actions to the streets to interact with people and raise awareness about women’s issues.

After weeks of rehearsals, two groups performed over the weekend of March 6-7, 2010 “Invisible Theater” actions in several locations around Beirut. The scenes performed were about sexual harassment, and a brother meddling in his sister’s life. Go to Nasawiya’s YouTube Channel to see videos from the sibling meddling group’s performance in Costa, Hamra and ABC Mall, Achrafieh.

Developed by Brazilian activist and theater director, Augusto Boal, the “Theater of the Oppressed and Invisible Theater” technique consists of performing a previously rehearsed play in a public space without the public’s knowing that it is a play. It addresses a precise theme concerning social injustice, such as sexism. It is intended to provoke debate and to clarify the problem with the people who experience it.

Nasawiya also printed over 40 congratulatory banners which were hung in and around Beirut. You may have spotted them while you were out and about.

Members and friends also distributed 3,000 Happy IWD stickers in streets, offices and universities.

Through a special partnership with the progressive daily Al-Akhbar, other members contributed articles to the paper’s March 8, 2010 issue, celebrating International Women’s Day.

And while the Nasawiya hive was buzzing, another group of activists documented the collective’s preparations for IWD 2010 in a do-it-yourself video.

Nasawiya’s IWD actions will culminate tonight at 6:30 PM with a “take back the night” march for all women’s rights.

“How many times have we thought twice about leaving our homes at night?” said Farah Salka, Nasawiya’s General Coordinator. “How many times have we dreaded the walk back home, even from the car up to our apartment? How many times have we walked at night, always looking over our shoulders? How many times have we been silenced, just because we were women? That’s why we’ve decided to take to the streets to demand that the night be a safe time for women and remind people that gender equality is an integral part of human rights and that there’s still a lot to do for women’s rights and social justice.”

Nasawiya’s march calls for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence, be they verbal, physical, and sexual must be eliminated; the elimination of sexism and all forms of discrimination, and exploitation that are based on gender, sexuality, able-bodiedness, ethnicity, race, religion, class, etc.; the right of women to their bodies and sexualities; and the abolition of all laws that violate women’s rights.

Whichever way you’re celebrating International Women’s Day, we wish you all a very happy one.

The revolution continues…

Sometime in the first decade of the 21st century, Joelle found queer and feminist activism, which only added to her always being lost – in thought, that is. Joelle likes to wander (or is it ponder?) the world, read books, listen to her – yes, her – music, and mull over her existence, the human condition, and the thoughts zooming through her mind when she’s running or biking in the city and beyond. Queer existentialism anyone?

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