Thousands Keep Marching for International Women's Day in Beirut

Published March 12th, 2018 - 09:09 GMT
A Lebanese woman raises her fist as she shouts slogans during a protest in downtown Beirut. (AFP/ File Photo)
A Lebanese woman raises her fist as she shouts slogans during a protest in downtown Beirut. (AFP/ File Photo)

Thousands took to the streets of Beirut Sunday for an annual march to mark International Women’s Day last week, rallying under the slogan “Different causes, shared anger.” Demonstrators led the march from the Adlieh roundabout through Barbir to its final destination at Hawd al-Wilaya Park in Sodeco, with signs, slogans and activists representing the diverse range of issues facing women in Lebanon today.

The march was organized by the Lebanese feminist bloc, which includes feminist groups such as the Dammeh Cooperative, Feminist Network, the AUB gender and sexuality club, Sawt al-Niswa and Fe-male, in collaboration with NGOs including KAFA (enough) Violence and Exploitation, Helem and Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering.

“Last year it was just the feminist bloc and all the member organizations, but this year we’ve cast a much wider net and partnered with a lot of NGOs and other collectives,” Mira Mawla, a women’s rights activist and Feminist Network organizer, told the Daily Star.

“So it’s much bigger, we have a very big umbrella for the causes we’re asking for. ... We have one struggle, one anger, even though we’re all covering very different grounds.”

Topics raised at the march included gender equality, the abolishment of the kafala system and migrant domestic workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights and violence against women.

“We’re here to fight for our rights, not only equal rights of women and men but also LGBTQ rights,” Noura al-Turjman, an American University of Beirut student and women’s rights activist, told The Daily Star.

“Look around, you can see the flags of Palestine, posters about Ghouta and what’s happening in Syria, it’s amazing to see all the cases we’re fighting for and everyone here on the streets.”

A group from the Migrant Community Center, a collective formed by young feminist Lebanese activists in close partnership with migrant domestic workers, chanted and jumped with the Ethiopian flag wrapped around their shoulders.

A crowd of Syrian refugee camp volunteers chanted, “Here’s a salute to the displaced Syrian women!”

Palestinian activists waved Palestine’s flag with pride.

Though the march’s identity was proudly intersectional, its main objective was to highlight gender inequality and the mistreatment of women. In unison, activists from all walks of life in Lebanon chanted to the beat of the drums, “Down with the patriarchy!” Gay rights activists were a prominent presence in this year’s rally, adorned with rainbow flags and signs that read, “Trans women are women too.”

“We’re here lobbying for gay rights, and it’s amazing, it’s my first time at the women’s march and the acceptance has just been amazing,” Gigi, a transgender woman and “influencer” from Helem, a Lebanese nonprofit organization working on improving the legal and social status of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, told The Daily Star.

While the participants in the march were primarily women, many men also participated in support.

“I’m a victim of patriarchy too ... seriously! Our family was torn apart because of patriarchy,” Zakaria Jaber said.

The march came at the conclusion of a series of events that started on March 6 to celebrate International Women’s Day in Lebanon, including panels and art showcases designed to empower women.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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