From oct 2010 my educational posts are published only on Pip

19 sep. 2011

Context and feminism differs

Fortunately the surreal Dubai experience was balanced with real life of the same weight. There were eleven very real women telling us their very real stories. It was just as inspiring to discover how we were just alike, our meeting-points, as to be bewildered by the differences. As women, or even just ambitious social entrepreneurs, there are no discrepancies. The contexts are widely separated.

The Iranians rest in my mind with their listlessness. I felt they didn't have much hope for any changes and I'm not sure that they knew what changes they wanted. They seem to often rely upon medical and scientific proofs and it was clear that our countries don't present the same facts. In Sweden we believe homosexuality proven not to be a contaminating disease and women are not yet proved to be better fitted in sense of orientation than men.

Our Egyptian queen-like participants confirmed a sense of that not much has changed after the revolution, but when digging a little deeper it turned out that she was now allowed to talk about what ever she wanted to talk about in public and people are performing and letting their messages out loudly on the streets. The remaining frustration is not to disrespect though. It requires lots of energy, dreams and high goals to succeed with the performance of this people - they have still far to go to reach the goals they were breaking the ice for.

The Palestinian girls could have been my Stockholm neighbours and yet they and their parents have been living in contingency for all of their lives. Revolutionized news can never touch them as they have never had a stable state. These entrepreneurs have huge will to make change and even though they found it hard to register a company targeting a good cause, they had found their own ways to deal with it - slow but concrete. Both them and the Jordanian girl had run into system problems with their projects when trying to create job opportunities for unprivileged women. Women who are not allowed to work in a house where there is a man present or carry the garbages outside the house are not easy to engage and when succeeding their salary goes directly to her husband anyway. But clearly the failures only create new ideas to move forward.

The Syrian was a chapter of her own - a woman in the middle of a revolution. Every piece of her and her story felt invaluable, and I am just happy that there are people like her. It's those who make changes come true. She had it in her finger tips. I feel certain that we will read about her and her friends in the history books in the future - that I've met a historic person.

We also met three outstanding Dubai located women volunteering for the Acumen Fund. They had all changed their banker careers in New York for the same in Dubai. I have never ever dreamt of beeing an investor but they made me envy their skills in making big money and investing them in huge long term beneficence projects around the world. I'd like to put them on tour inspiring all hungry economy students to become rich and beneficent.

I guess the only subject we never touched during these three days was feminism.
Some of the projects in the group aim to spread women's rights to those who don't know them, and I'm sure we all had the same base in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but feminism is much more complex than that. While someone believes that wearing hijab is the only right way to live life even though she by that is forbidden to enter night clubs or even take a job, someone else believes that the color of pink by itself will turn girls to limited helpless souls. These are sensitive matters - true to one and false to another.

We had a engilded tea at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi after having been rejected to enter the night club due to wearing hijab. By respect for the religion they said - unsexy and conciously excludingly I suspect.

Soledad Pinero Misa och Malin Speace

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