FULLY BOOKED #FCBBCA: Women of the revolution

Talk December 16, 2011 7:00 PM




 The uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa were a time when the ‘revolutionary Arab woman’ grabbed the attention of the western media.

As women took to the streets, shouted slogans and braved being teargassed, the media was in particular fascinated by the educated, articulate  bloggers and activists who were feted as leaders of the revolution.

The fight for women’s rights didn’t begin with the Arab Spring and has gone on without the attention of the world’s media. We will be bringing together some of the women who took part in the Arab Spring and those who have been working to promote women’s rights to discuss if the revolutions have been good for women.

Women have been let down by revolutions before – in  Iran their support for the revolution against the Shah in 1979 was rewarded by curbs on their rights. What are the signs that the revolutions in the Arab world will be any different?

Chaired by Lindsey Hilsum, international editor at Channel 4 News.


Maryam Alkhawaja, Bahraini human rights activist. She is the daughter of the Bahraini human rights defender Abdulhadi Alkhawaja and head of the foreign relations office at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. She has been an outspoken voice during the recent protests in Bahrain. She is an active member of the Bahraini youth movement and campaigns for an end to discrimination against Shiites in Bahrain. This year she has participated in the U.S. – Islamic World Forum, Oslo freedom forum and was one of witnesses in a congress hearing about Human rights in Bahrain.

Tawakkul Karman, Yemeni journalist, activist, mother of three and founder of Women Journalists Without Chains. In December Karman will receive a Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo for her non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work. Yemen had been a fragile country before the turbulence of the Arab Uprisings reached its capital, Sana’a. Since the uprising began in January 2011 state repression, arrests, shootings and bombings of civilian protesters has been widespread. Karman quickly emerged as a leading opposition figure. 

Sussan Tahmasebi, women’s rights and civil society activist. Tahmasebi works at the national and grassroots level in Iran to address gender issues, women’s rights and to strengthen and promote the role of civil society organisations. She is a founding member of the award-winning One Million Signatures Campaign, which collects signatures in support of changing discriminatory laws against women in Iran. Campaign members engage in face-face discussions with Iranians from all walks of life across Iran and internationally. They then collect signatures in support of a petition opposing all gender-biased laws in Iran. 

Mervat Mhani, Libyan mother of two and member of The Free Generation Movement, a non-governmental organization made up of independent activists working towards the development and progression of Libya and Libyan society. The Free Generation Movement aspires to be the voice of change and the driving force for progress. Their vision involves splitting Libya’s progression into three phases: 1. Resistance 2. Stabilization 3. Development.

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