CHIME in the Arab Region: Convening Intergenerational Activists for Women’s Rights
PublicationJul 4, 2019
What does gender equality mean to young people in the Middle East and North Africa? With the support of CHIME FOR CHANGE, Equality Now held its first ever strategic convening in Beirut, Lebanon in April 2019. The event brought together 40 activists of all ages from around the region to work across borders on issues affecting women, including child marriage, nationality laws, male guardianship and sexual violence.
In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, there has been significant backtracking on gender equality, and increasing restrictions on women’s rights groups and activists in the region. By bringing together advocates from around the region to share experiences and strategies, we build the capacity of the movement to organize and advance change in their countries.
“I became an activist in Lebanon because I want my human rights back. As youth activists, we stand on the shoulders of our foremothers who have struggled for equality and education for 60 years. This generation is shouting even louder that we must have equality between men and women. Young people are the ambassadors for change.”
– Moufeeda Haidar
The convening also included a special youth panel, during which young activists from Lebanon, Tunisia and beyond spoke about the power of young people to transform the future of women in the Middle East and North Africa. Participants stressed the influence of traditional gender roles in their home countries as a barrier to gender equality, and the necessity of working with older and younger generations to learn, innovate and create inclusive, effective movements.
“Tunisia is a progressive country for our laws on gender equality. But changing the mindsets of older generations is hard. Civil society must invest in young people. Women’s concerns are not just women’s concerns; they concern us all.”
Together, Equality Now and CHIME FOR CHANGE will host three more convenings to facilitate the emergence of a pan-Arab social movement of women and youth who will support one another as they fight for change in their home countries and across the region.
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