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AWT and Arab Spring [b]Ruba Abbassi[/b]Ruba Abbassi

The Arab world is going through a phase of monumental change and transition. Regimes have fallen; longstanding political systems and economic policies are being rethought or discarded. There is a call for democracy as it was fully intended, personal freedom, and social equality. Women have played a prominent and active role in this “Arab revolution” and in many cases were at the forefront of demonstrations and popular protests, even in the more conservative Arab countries.

“I resisted the French occupation. I resisted the dictatorship of Bin Ali. I will remain in the square, for our revolt has not yet achieved its goals.” This was stated by 77 year old Ms. Sadoni, who demonstrated in the cold of the Tunisian streets for two weeks, in front of the home of the Tunisian prime minister. She resisted.

In Tunisia and Egypt, women resist. In Libya and Yemen, women resist.

All over the Arab world women are resisting. They have resisted and protested hoping they would win freedom for themselves and democracy for their country. All of these countries face a long road ahead. Throughout the region, there are opportunities for women to be part of institutions that will shape legal frameworks for decades to come.

This brings us to ask, what are the actual benefits women have attained from these revolutions and from a spring she effectively participated in side by side with men? Is it possible that women’s rights, which are not yet achieved, will decline more during this era of revolution? Will this pull us backward rather than forward? What role is the Arab woman expected to play today and tomorrow? Will she find herself as a role model during the rebuilding of the States and civil society? Will she find reinforcement of citizenship and equal rights? Will the woman keep her pioneering role during post revolution or is she going to loose it because of a new style of leadership and rulers?

In the midst of the unknown future, women of the Arab Spring continue to call for real change and opportunities to shape the future. Throughout the year women’s activists have been voicing concerns about the continued lack of laws and practices to encourage women’s leadership, to address their social and local empowerment, and to tackle the high rates of gender-based violence in private and public spaces.

As soon as women stop being afraid, they won’t stand for their rights being violated and they won’t remain silent. As we review the history of the Arab woman and how her simple right has been taken away from her or not even given to her, it gives us an urgency to support her movement towards her basic rights. Such as, her rights against virginity tests before marriage, fighting violence against women and children, freedom of choice, freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

What is the role and view of AWT during the Arab Woman Spring? The opportunity is wide open to reach these women through technology such as radio and internet that break through all borders. We want to communicate to her that she has the right to choose her religion, the right to choose her husband; she has a right to live with full dignity, and the right to be equipped and skilled.

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During 2011, AWT followed women in the Arab World who were in the news and noticed that her situation is still under attack particularly with the threat of the Islamist parties to take over the reins of power in these unstable governments. The responsibility is constantly increasing for us to be fully ready and equipped to reach these women.

AWT is looking forward to a promising future and for a real spiritual and social transformation of Arab women. We are taking responsibility to carry the voice of women socially, spiritually and economically. We cannot take one part and neglect the other. It’s a long journey for women to be fully empowered and living in full equality inside and outside the church. We believe that the Arab Spring is giving Arab women the chance to start blooming and spreading the aroma of a better future.

Ruba Abbassi

The Arab world is not to be confused with the Middle East; Iran and Turkey are not Arab countries. The Arab world consists of 22 Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East and North Africa whose primary language is Arabic, although not all the people are Semitic Arabs.