Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Jasmine revolution has made one thing very clear: Women are today a force to reckon with.

SAVE, for the last two years has been propagating one thing: ‘Say No to Violent Extremism’- no matter who is behind it - state, clergy, extremist organizations or individuals. The Jasmine revolution has thrown up a number of female role models who prove that women are change makers that propagate this philosophy, says Archana Kapoor, SAVE India.

The Yemeni Ambassador to India, Khadija Radman Mohamed Ghanem, a woman, is one such example. On March 22, 2011, after the death of 52 Yemeni civilians at the hands of government forces, Khadija declared openly her support for the protesters. In fact the 57-year-old Kahdija, who came to India in 2010,sent a statement to the Al Arabiya TV channel saying: “We, ambassador of Yemen and Yemen’s diplomatic corps, declare our support for the peaceful youth revolution in Yemen and their demand for transition in the country after the situation worsened in a very painful manner...We cannot accept it or justify it.”

The statement also said, “We will continue our assignment as member of the diplomatic corps of Yemen,” signed by the ambassador and four of her diplomatic colleagues. Kahdija was deputy minister for women’s affairs in Yemen.

I think this is the kind of courage we need to reject violence. The Jasmine revolution has made one thing very clear: Women are today a force to reckon with. The scent of the Jasmine Revolution which spread like wild fire in the Arab world, clearly reflects the important role that women can and have played in ousting and fighting violence.

Before the revolution in Tunisia, the only reference to women was to the First Lady, Laila Al Trabelsi, and her excesses. She collected real estate, villas and bank accounts, unlike the First lady of Philippines Imelda Marcus, who only collected shoes! The protests grew with women coming out onto the streets in full force, and breaking down stereotypes. Women were on the frontlines of the protests chanting slogans like “Bread, water, and no Ben Ali”. The most popular slogan on the streets was “No to the Trabelsis who looted the budget”.

In Egypt we saw images of women moving along side men, protesting, shouting and spending nights at the Tahrir square. Women from all walks of life- poor, rich, middle class, with heads covered or uncovered, Christians and Muslims- all demanded the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. They relentlessly faced the batons of the police, the bullets and the tear gas. Postings on Facebook and Twitter only helped their cause and got more and more women on the streets.

Today Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and more countries in West Asia are going through a crisis. The women of the world need to unite and provide comfort to those whose children are being slaughtered- killed indiscriminately for asking for their rights. Today we all need to be part of this campaign...we all need to say NO to violence and extremism!!

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