A new book has been published to illuminate the pioneering feminists hailing from the Arab world, spanning from the 19th century to the present day. Geared towards children, this book received support from the German foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, operating in the MENA region. It features concise yet insightful detail of twelve women who dedicated their careers to politics, literature, law, and education.
Over the summer, a digital version in Arabic was made available for free, while physical copies have recently been released. An English-language edition titled "Brave and Bold" is also in the pipeline.
Samantha Elia, a project manager based in Beirut, emphasizes that feminism is not a foreign concept imposed on the region but rather a movement initiated by Arab feminists. These women played a crucial role in advocating for girls' education, women's voting rights, and the ability for women to work outside their homes. These changes were not instigated by men but by women who collectively sought change through government action and activism.
The book adopts an easy approach for youngsters even though feminism continues to be a multifaceted subject that sparks global debate. It defines feminism as striving for justice and equal rights and opportunities for both women and men, girls and boys, without one gender having dominance over the other. Elia claims that the struggle for fundamental rights in extremely male-dominated cultures, whether in Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt, or elsewhere, is what unites the 12 women depicted in "Brave and Bold."
For instance, Raufa Hassan Al-Sharki, Yemen's first female journalist, campaigned for equal education. Lebanese activist Linda Matar began her advocacy as a young silk factory worker, championing women's voting rights. Iraqi pioneer Dr. Naziha Al-Dulaimi, the first female minister born in 1923, fervently advocated for women's right to initiate divorces and protect children from forced marriages.
Elia and her coworkers think it's crucial to share these activists' tales in order to highlight their achievements. The book serves as a personal reminder for them, as they previously struggled to name feminists from each of these countries, feeling that such ignorance was regrettable.
The colorful book was created by Amman-based illustrator Aya Mobaydeen, who surrounded each photo of the featured women with flowers and other items that represented their professions. In order to inform youngsters about the great accomplishments of these women, she tried to make the images interesting to them.
For Elia, the book itself is a tribute to these activists' achievements. She emphasizes that children's access to the book is a testament to the changes these feminists made in the realm of education and should be celebrated by everyone, highlighting their remarkable accomplishments despite the challenges they faced.