Saturday’s ‘Women’s March’ saw thousands of protestors united across the world, demonstrating against newly inaugurated US President Trump while promoting the issue of women’s rights. And while female empowerment is not so readily associated with the MENA region, this did not stop women in the Middle East defying Western stereotypes and marching in solidarity with those in the US.
Four official sister marches were organised in Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Israel, sharing in the universal Women’s March message: ‘Women’s rights are human rights.’
In Iraqi Kurdistan, a group of demonstrators met at the Erbil Main Square on Saturday night to show their support for women’s rights. “I am not a woman, but I am from the people who believe men should support women’s rights,” explained the march organizer, Issa Sufy.
The event page explained: “We march because of the three global reasons that women march for which are:
We are no longer willing to repeat the same situations.
Iraqi Women have an inner knowing that their life can be better.
IDP women Desire a life enriched by purpose and connection.”
The event attracted hundreds of supporters, both local and foreign.
Women’s march Erbil, Iraq #whyimarch #womensrights pic.twitter.com/o01WiKLMH9— Ivana Chapcakova (@chapcaki) January 21, 2017
Hundreds of #US citizens marched in Erbil, #Kurdistan in support of women's rights and against Donald Trump's presidency.. #WomensMarch pic.twitter.com/lBtXxfD237— Raveen Aujmaya (@raveenaujmaya) January 21, 2017
Israel’s capital, Tel Aviv, was also bustling with demonstrators. Hundreds gathered in front of the US Embassy on Saturday evening with slogans such as “Hate does not make America great,” “Love Trumps hate” and “resistance has no borders.”
Call for boycott of Trump's Israel Ambassador appointee David Freidman at Women's March Tel Aviv pic.twitter.com/czZp92GEd7— joshmitnick (@joshmitnick) January 21, 2017
Powerful message at Tel Aviv Women's March pic.twitter.com/L5UK1F5faS— Allison K. Sommer (@AllisonKSommer) January 21, 2017
Lebanon’s Beirut and Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh also planned events for the day.
Organised by the Dammeh collective, women gathered in Beirut ‘to affirm our collective humanity and join WMW's actions of resistance and self-determination’.
Photo from our Beirut Day of Action in solidarity with the #WomensMarch #Beirut @womensmarch pic.twitter.com/HSN51J5fur— Jennifer Nish (@jennifernish) January 21, 2017
Meanwhile, although more than 800 women planned to gather at the Riyadh Marriott Hotel on Saturday morning, the website for official Saudi Arabia march was reportedly subject to a cyber attack.
“Actions like this reiterate how imperative it is for this message to get out there; and we intend to continue marching to ensure this message is not silenced,” organisers wrote in a Facebook post.
The fight for women’s rights continues to be a global issue, with sexism and patriarchy manifesting in various forms across the world. And while the Middle East is one region generally associated with a notably extreme level of oppression against women, the planned marches in Erbil, Tel Aviv, Beirut and Riyadh show that female strength and defiance has no boundaries.
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