the Wellesley Globalist Volume I, Issue I
In the issue: A Revolution in Thinking Growing up in a pre-Chávez Venezuela The Egyptian Revolution from “Her-story”
The Wellesley Globalist is a member of
Global 21 Network of International Affairs Magazines www.globali21online.org
1 NETWORK LINKING FUTURE WORLD LEADERS 5 LANGUAGES 5 CONTINENTS 10 UNIVERSITIES 245 000 STUDENTS
Table of Contents A revolution in thinking 8
An interview with Joanne Legler 13 Women in revolutions: a womanist perspective 16
Women in revolutions 22 Growing up in a pre-Chávez Venezuela 28
The Egyptian revolution from “Her-story” 32
Casinos and women of Macau 38
Youth and Revolutions: A Reflection Women have played significant roles in the major political revolutions of the nineteenth and twentieth century, although concrete political gains and public acknowledgement of their roles often took a long time to materialize. This issue of the Globalist, produced by a group of women students at Wellesley College, looks at women’s roles in revolutions, especially in the revolutions-still-to-come of the twenty-first century. In the twentieth century, students world-wide got involved in movements pushing for transformative and even revolutionary change. For example, when one considers the 1960s in global context, as Wellesley College History Professor Quinn Slobodian’s new book so clearly demonstrates, not only were students deeply involved in movements for transformative political and socio-economic change (the movement to stop the War in Vietnam and protest state violence in the global South, the civil rights movement, the sexual “revolution”, and so forth), but they did so by exchanging ideas and deriving inspiration from each other transnationally.1 The students who have made Wellesley College part of the Global21 network and established a branch of the Globalist here at our College acknowledge contribution of youth activism in the Arab Spring as a source of inspiration for expanding the global youth movement of which Global21 is a part e and women’s role in it – further. Just after the reelection of President Obama, another development has raised hopes for transformative change on this campus, namely the fact that women, for the first time in history, will make up twenty percent of the U.S. Senate. This achievement is relative, of course; after all, women form more than fifty percent of the electorate, and neither the senate as a whole nor the twenty women senators reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of the country. Another factor that cautions
against making too much out of his small step towards equality for women is that it has come about in a context of increasing economic inequality in the U.S., with many women amongst those worst off. Progressive, let alone revolutionary, change faces many significant obstacles. I would like to point out one challenge I find of particular importance for Global21, a global network of student thinkers and doers who are articulating an agenda for change on a global scale. Since September 11, 2001, many governments and international governing bodies have made international security their primary goal. In doing so, they have subjected other areas of international policy such as development and humanitarian aid to this security imperative. They have developed policies for populations in the global South that simply try to contain them in place and prevent them from affecting (or infecting) countries in the global North negatively, for example through migration. Containing the inhabitants of what Makaremi has called “the zones and ‘black holes’ of chaos” at minimal levels of human security and bare physical survival is the new norm in many international policies toward the poorest people in the global South.2 At the same time, educated youth globally is often not aware of the transformation that has taken place since the 1980s in the roles of NGOs and HROs (nongovernmental and humanitarian relief organizations); these organizations have been incorporated in the very governments and intergovernmental agencies that have made security their first and foremost objective and thus do not necessarily represent an autonomous or progressive mode of intervention or vehicle for social change. For a global student movement, this is something upon which to reflect and act. The saying that theory without praxis is empty but praxis without theory is blind is still worth remembering. Lidwien Kapteijns African and Middle Eastern History Professor Wellesley College
1 Quinn Slobodian, Foreign Front: Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012). 2 Makaremi, Chowra, “Utopias of Power: From Human Security to the Responsibility to Protect.” In Contemporary States of Emergency: The Politics of Military and Humanitarian Intervention, ed. Didier Fassin and Marissa Pandolfi (New York: Zone Books, 2010, 107-127.
Letter from Dear the Editor Globalist Readers, Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Wellesley Globalist! On behalf of our staff, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to our first edition: our writers, faculty, deans, and photographers. Without their efforts, this magazine would never have been possible. In addition, I would like to thank the Wellesley community for their support and enthusiasm. Beginning from February this year, our staff has been working hard to bring a memorable first edition that presents different perspectives on issues of Global concern. When the flames of revolutions ignited throughout the Arab World, we believe that itâ€™s important to underline contributions of women in revolutions. We also seek to emphasize that women play an important part not only in politics but also in economics, business and culture. Patricia Caldwell discusses womenâ€™s contribution to revolutions highlighting their roles in the Boston tea party as well as movements in Afghanistan, Nicaragua and most recently in Cairo. Becky Huang interviewed Joanne Ledger to discuss women in business, and Siqi Gao talks about women in Casinos in Macau. In this edition, we also tackle international affairs from an alternative perspective. Mariana Zepeda describes her experience living in Venezuela and sheds light on recent presidential elections. Dear readers, I hope you enjoy the first edition of the Wellesley Globalist! Dana Al-Jawamis Editor-in-Chief
Acknowledgements Editor-in-Chief: Dana Al-Jawamis Managing Editor: Rhoda Feng Associate & Copy Editors: Mariana Zepeda Siqi Gao Calin Brown Online Editor: Tricia Lu
Executive Director/Publisher: Alison Noehrbass Leila Elabaddy Production Editor: Rebecca George Design and Production Staff: Emily Frisella Julie Rong Sinead Cheung Karen Su Sarah Xu Julia V Makivic
Events Coordinator: Nayla Al-Mamlouk Special thanks to: President Kim Bottomly Professor Lidwein Kepteijns Amyeo Jereen Dean Michelle Lepore Wellesley Arab Women Association International Relations Council IR-History Department Middle East Department Economics Department Allison Li
A Letter to the Globalist This summer, I was delighted to learn that Wellesley College would be one of a select number of colleges and universities around the world to join the Global21 network, thanks to the efforts of students who have brought The Wellesley Globalist to fruition. This medium will serve as an important outlet for Wellesley students— and students around the globe—to add their voices to the conversation on international affairs. As the first women’s college to join this network, I know our students will offer insightful perspectives on politics, economics, culture, and on Wellesley in the world. This publication is just one of the many ways in which Wellesley is a global institution. Our campus culture continues to be an internationally rich learning environment—an atmosphere that benefits all of our students. Many Wellesley students take advantage of off-campus experiences around the world —such as study abroad and internships. On campus, Wellesley offers instruction in 14 languages—more than any other liberal arts college in the country—and our interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary Madeleine K. Albright Institute for Global Affairs is a standard-setting example of global learning and leadership.
Wellesley educates women to be 21st century global citizens, helping them develop the skill sets, broad understanding, and intellectual flexibility to thrive in an environment in which there are technological, economic, social, cultural, and political changes that are inevitable and inevitably paradigm-shifting. This inaugural edition of The Wellesley Globalist is focused on Women in Revolutions, a timely theme given the political transformation that continues to sweep through the Middle East and North Africa region. This past June, during the first Women in Public Service Institute at Wellesley, 50 women from the Middle East came to campus for two weeks to take courses, participate in panel discussions, learn from faculty experts and their peers, and begin to build a global network of emerging leaders. Wellesley’s involvement as a founding partner of the larger Women in Public Service Project is yet another example of our continued commitment to women’s global leadership. For more than 135 years, Wellesley College has been dedicated to educating women who will—and do—make a difference in the world. Our deeply held sense of mission is one of the reasons, I think, that students, faculty, staff, and alumnae are proud to be part of the Wellesley community. I know I am. President of Wellesley College Kim Bottomly
The Wellesley Globalist
Women in Revolutions: Politics & Economics
Written By Jenna Russo Class of 2014 Pictures By Gigi Ibrahim
In keeping with the theme of revolution, I hoped to examine whether Americans would benefit from a revolution in thinking and perception. The current state of American politics is such that partisanship often prevents resolution and respectful communication, causing people to judge others on the basis of their political party affiliation, rather than on the content of their ideas. For the purpose of this article, I decided to investigate these questions within the context of Wellesley College. I wanted to explore how partisanship has influenced the way Wellesley women think about politics. I also wanted to examine whether Wellesley women feel comfortable voicing their true political beliefs in environments which might be hostile to certain viewpoints. I decided to investigate these questions within the context of Wellesley College. In order for us to be women who make a difference in the world, I believe it is crucial for us to examine the biases inherent in our own social, intellectual and cultural upbringing. We are not above party allegiances and the prejudices partisanship brings. During the summer, I posted a message to the Facebook pages of each class year, as well as to those of student organizations such as the student government, college
volution in thinking
How Opening Ourselves to Honest e Might Revolutionize American Politics
Women in Revolutions 9
10 The Wellesley Globalist democrats, college republicans, the Committee for Political and Legislative Action, and the Agora Political Society. In the message, I explained that I would appreciate if any students would be willing to assist me with an article I was writing about how Wellesley women educate themselves about political issues. I provided links so that students could learn more about the Globalist publication. I also promised full anonymity to anyone who agreed to participate, because I felt that it was very important for my interview subjects to feel that they could
express themselves without fear of retribution. I wanted this article to promote dialogue and understanding, rather than portray any one individual or organization in a negative light. Despite my assurances that all interviews would be strictly confidential and anonymous, only five students agreed to speak with me. While this could have been due to a number of factors, such as the fact that many students are working or away during the summer, I believe the lack of responses also suggests the gravity of the topic and a deeper fear of putting oneself at risk. One student shared, "Even at a place
Right A salute of fondness, reverence and support to Samirah Irabhim the daughter of Upper Egypt. Left Samirah Ibrahim was a 35 years old woman stripped naked by force, her virginity exposed in front of officers and soldiers from the army. To avenge her dignity she filed a lawsuit to the Egyptian court. She was not given attention, an audience, any media coverage, and no life to whom you call for.
like Wellesley, it's scary to be honest sometimes. There's a lot at stake. We all want to do well here, and even the thought of being humiliated or ostracized makes me think it's not worth it to speak up sometimes." Another student revealed, "I think there's the basic human motive of not wanting to stick out in any way; people want to fit in and blend into what seems popular, and this holds true for people's political identities." All of my interview subjects asked me to reaffirm that everything they shared with me was confidential. One student lamented, "Unfortunately, people often get immature and don't want to listen to anyone from an unpopular group, so I would really prefer to participate as anonymously as possible." Another agreed, "I don't want my name attached to anything that can come back to bite me. So many times I feel like fights occur because words and ideas are taken out of context. It makes me afraid to open my mouth." As I proceeded with my investigation, I wanted to understand why Wellesley College students choose to affiliate themselves with a particular political party. One student shared, "Registering as a Democrat was never so much a choice as much as an inevitability...my whole family was active in politics. I've never questioned my party affiliation, although as I've gotten older I've certainly gotten better at justifying why I think what I think. It has been interesting to explore the concrete policy reasons that reaffirm my loyalty to the Democratic party." Another student expressed similar thoughts, "I can say that I share most of my parents' beliefs, so even though I like to think that I've independently formulated my political values, I think they've been a big influence on me." When I asked one student whether she had in-
formed her Democratic parents that she had voted for a Republican candidate in the last election, she responded, "Since I go to Wellesley, my parents assume that I'm a Democrat, and I've never really said anything to make them think otherwise. We're a really close family and I don't want conflict." Nearly all of the students I spoke with also believed that their party offered the best approach to solving global issues. "The Democratic approach just seems most logical to me," reported one student. Another student commented, "I really like the Republican approach for the economy because Republican politicians typically strive for businesses to grow through freedom rather than government assistance." A third student said, "I really want to help people in the world, and I honestly feel that Democrats can do that." At the same time, my interview subjects felt that effective strategies might combine a variety of approaches. One student asserted, "With such a wide variety of issues nowadays jobs, the economy, foreign relations, social issues like women's rights and gay marriage - I find it difficult to navigate the partisan waters as it's nearly impossible to find one party or candidate who can satisfy my mix of beliefs." Another agreed, "I think it's important to examine all parties, all candidates, and all sides...I like to imagine that parties don't exist sometimes so I can more clearly look at the issues and not get caught up in, 'Well I'm a member of Party X so I've got to vote for this X candidate, even though I'm not so wild about him or her.'" A third student
Women in Revolutions 11
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said, "I am registered to vote, but I am unaffiliated with any political party. I choose to not affiliate myself with any party because none of them fully encompass my views." My interviews suggested that we sometimes affiliate ourselves with a party to attribute blame. It's the party's fault, or the "other" party's fault if something goes wrong. One student mentioned, "The democrats haven't done anything to curb the skyrocketing level of unemployment in the United States." However, blame prevents us from taking accountability for ourselves and admitting that we ourselves were wrong, that we were only looking at the story from one
to have the security of a political doctrine that lays out a clear set of solutions for our most profound problems in a systematic order, because otherwise, we would have to take responsibility for sorting out these complexities by ourselves. I think that a revolution in thinking would require us to recognize and accept that we cannot organize our world in a linear fashion. I am suggesting that we look at ourselves and our affiliations from a critical perspective, so that we can open our minds and our hearts to a world of possibilities. We need not blame ourselves for the rigid ways of thinking we've inherited, nor should we blame our parents, teachers, government, or anyone for that matter, because
â€œI find it difficult to navigate the partisan waters as itâ€™s nearly impossible to find one party or candidate who can satisfy my mix of beliefs.â€?
angle, that we have not completely relieved ourselves of our biases and prejudices. After interviewing my fellow Wellesley sisters, I truly believe that the partisanship in our country and world stems from fear. The fear of being wrong, for instance. The fear of failure. The fear of opening oneself up to so many unknown possibilities. Or perhaps most importantly, the fear of being ostracized or causing conflict if we openly disagree with our family, friends and community. I believe that most of us would prefer
we've all subscribed ourselves to the same uncreative pattern of thinking for generations. We are all part of the problem, but that also means that we all have the potential to be part of the solution. Let's stop trying to attribute blame, seeing as it hasn't enabled us to find a solution so far, and begin to recognize the internal and external mechanisms that keep us disconnected from our real selves and our fellow human beings. It might be a long process of healing, but it would truly revolutionize the way we perceive our world and each other.
An interview with Joanne Legler the Associate Director of Admissions at Booth School of Business
Q: What do you see as the current trend of women in MBA? What can be changed to promote more? A: There exists an increasing interest in MBA among women. However, many women do not follow through with the degree as they take up the role of a care-taker later on, among other reasons. Nonetheless, more women are in positions of business leadership nowadays. Women have come to realize how versatile an MBA degree can be. Whether one works in marketing, non-profit, education, government, an MBA degree will add much value. Currently, thirty-five percent of our MBA students are female, and Chicago Booth is hoping to push up the percentage in the future. That there are fewer female MBA students is also due to the fact that less women apply, but I would say the acceptance rate of male and female who do apply are similar. Many women allow their gender to discount talent, and so we see women talking themselves out of an MBA, such as thinking “I’m not smart enough,” etc. Furthermore, I would say that mentorship is needed for women today. Indeed, there have been projects that promote female representation, such as 2020 Women on Boards, which is a national campaign to increase the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to 20% or greater by the year 2020. Actually, in Europe, the European Commission has been pushing for a mandate that requires at least 40 percent of the seats on company boards to be women. Q: You mentioned that women need mentorship so that female representation in the business arena may be promoted. May you please expand on this advice? A: Yes. Mentorship is crucial at the workplace, and a good mentor can be the shaper of one’s career. Women should look outside of what we often think of as mentors. The mentor should not just be one’s boss. He or she should be anyone who can take you to be eventually staffed on high profile projects. Therefore, women should find someone or anyone who is willing to play that role. He or she could even be outside of the company.
Women in Revolutions 13
14 The Wellesley Globalist
Women in Revolutions: Politics & Economics
An interview with Joanne Legler continued
Interview By Becky Huang Class of 2014 Reflection By Becky Huang Class of 2014 Picture By Gigi Ibrahim
Q: We know that Booth is especially strong in its finance program, and the theme that WWIB desires to explore this year is entrepreneurship. What do you think are the advantages of applications with entrepreneurial background? A: It is true that Booth has arguably the best finance program in the country because of our alums, but itâ€™s also true that finance jobs have dried up a little due to the economic situation. Regarding entrepreneurs entering our program, I would say that an MBA is an MBA, everyone comes out with same degree. Finance and entrepreneurship are only concentrations within the MBA. I would say that an MBA degree for an entrepreneur is especially key. An entrepreneur needs to know all aspects of business, such as marketing, operation, accounting, etc. He or she needs to be schooled in all of the concentrations. Furthermore, an entrepreneur needs to raise funds, he or she can do so by networking with alums, those on the board, etc. Entrepreneurs will also have the chance to throw a business plan out in class and have other people tear into pieces. This way, the business plan eventually comes out rock solid, and the investors will have no questions. Thus, anyone who is interested in business, especially entrepreneurs, would benefit a lot from an MBA degree. Q: What advantage does Chicago Booth have over other business schools? A: I would say that there are four pieces of differentiation for Chicago Booth MBA. Our management program is discipline-based, and we emphasize the fundamentals. If our students forget how to attack a specific case, they can always refer back to the building blocks of business and go from there. These four pillars of business are accounting, economics, behavioral science, and statistics. At Chicago Booth, you will meet people from all parts of world, and by constantly being in class with different people, you will be exposed to all of them and learn from the exposure itself. We also have the most flexible curriculum out of all peer schools. Our students are the biggest supporters of each other. We believe in peer learning, and Chicago Booth makes it happen.
Reflection on an interview
Women and men marching in an Anti IMF Loan Protest in Downtown Cairo
Wellesley Women in Business is honored to host Joanne Legler to share her wisdom with the Wellesley community on Sept. 27, 2012. As the editorial liaison, I want to reflect on Ms. Leglerâ€™s message, and in particular, how a womanâ€™s informed self-view could shape her career in positive ways. During my interview with Ms. Legler, she mentioned that women discount their talents more frequently than men do in general. That is unfortunate. Yet this lack of confidence can also prompt women toward pursuit of perfection on projects to make up for the missing confidence. This drive necessarily makes women better doers than braggers. Entrepreneurs especially need to be system-thinkers and doers who test and fix all aspects of a pitch. Since entrepreneurs and women both work hard toward project solutions, female entrepreneurs should be a great combination. Ms. Legler also mentioned the importance of mentorship for career development. Mentorship is related to, yet differs much from, networking. Women often believe that they are less effective at networking as men, which hurts their confidence. On the one hand, networking often involves broad, yet relatively shallow, relationship building. Networking at career fairs, for example, requires one to project oneself convincingly to many recruiters whom one may have never met before, in a short amount of time. On the other hand, mentorship is a more enduring relationship than one that merely secures a contact for a job post. Indeed women are relational, and tend to build deep and long-term relationships. Thus, even if women may not be as overpowering as men at networking, women may be better at developing mentorship in general. According to Ms. Legler, a good mentor can shape oneâ€™s career, then how advantaged are women, who naturally tend toward meaningful and long-term relationships! One of the things that Ms. Legler hinted at is the lack of confidence among many women interested in business. Yet on the flip side of this negative phenomenon lie tremendous female potentials, such as systematic thinking and mentorship building. Females can gain confidence even just by recognizing these amazing qualities. If women can flesh out these advantages through confidence, their careers would look even more promising.
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16 The Wellesley Globalist
Women in Revolutions: Perspectives
Women in revolution
Written By Layli Maparyan Ex. Dir. WCW, PhD
Like many people across the world, I had high hopes for the Arab Spring. From the inaugural regime change in Tunisia to the exciting regime change in Egypt, to the frustrating attempt at regime change in Yemen, to the messy regime change in Libya, I kept myself glued to the news following the unfoldments in the Middle East and North Africa. Hopes were pinned not only on the establishment of democracy, but also on the advancement of women’s rights. Despite the fact that many dictators were toppled, I was deeply disappointed by the moment’s failure to realize the possibility of increasing women’s rights. I also came to feel disappointment about the impact of the Arab revolutions on other marginalized communities, such as religious minorities, low-wage workers, and immigrants. I was further discouraged by the ugly racism that showed its face during several of the revolutions. Revolutions are supposed to prove to us that “another world is possible” (to borrow from Arundhati Roy), so it is disheartening when all they produce is
“a shift of characters in the same weary drama” (to borrow from Audre Lorde). Now, after more than a year since these revolutions unfolded in the Arab world, I find myself reflecting not only on what is possible—because I think we’ve established, at least in theory, what we as humans are capable of (in the most positive sense)—but, more seriously, on what it would take to get us there. I think that there is a way—a slower, more practical, more deliberate, and ultimately more enduring way to make revolution—in what I call the “womanist way.” Before I describe it, however, it might be instructive to take a closer look at how we understand “revolutions” in general.
Deconstructing Revolution What is revolution? I think most agree that revolutions are comprised of attempts to change things dramatically. Revolution implies radical change—literally, the word derives from the Latin word change at the root (Latin radix)—from the word revolvere, which means “to turn” or “to roll back.” Roll back to what? To the root, of course. But what is the root? Revolutions all depend on how we answer this question. Our popular image of revolution is often one of upheaval, armed struggle, protests, riots, uprisings, overthrows, and coups—which is exactly what we saw during the Arab Spring. Even if there is “victory” at the end, the moment of liberation—filled with possibility and prom-
ns: A womanist reflection ise—that has been produced by the revolution in question is often rapidly eclipsed by a return to something eerily like whatever undesirable thing existed before. Not only did we observe this pattern with the revolutions of the Arab Spring, but also with many of the hope-inspiring revolutions associated with post-colonial independence in the Third World throughout the 20th century. Particularly for women, who often fought valiantly along men for liberation from the colonial yoke, and the opportunity to build a new and more egalitarian society, the post-revolutionary era often utterly failed to deliver. For me, the revolution-as-strugglethen-overthrow model doesn’t appear credible/ definitive. Why do we understand revolutions this way? As I see it, this understanding of revolutions is determined by three factors: 1) A masculinist political lens, which focuses on the pursuit (or resistance) of domination through aggression; 2) The legacy of the Cold War (which, borrowing from masculism, defines revolution à la Marxism as class struggle and overthrowing of capitalist rulers), and 3) The imprint of 20th century liberation movements (which, borrowing from Marxism, suggested that resistance to domination through struggle and overthrow produce liberation and other utopian social ideals). All of these models assume that political oppression and its embodiment into regimes lay the root of the problem, and that regime change would solve it. We must pose the question; did it?
For another world to be possible, we need to explore other views about revolutions.
The Womanist Way “Womanism is a social change perspective, rooted in Black women’s and other women of color’s everyday experiences and everyday methods of problem-solving in everyday spaces, extended to the problem of ending all forms of oppression for all people, restoring the balance between people and the environment/nature, and reconciling human life with the spiritual dimension.”* Over time, womanism has become global, encompassing people of all races and genders who share a common vision for social and ecologic change that emphasizes the power of cultural wisdom, the value of spirit, the impact of change in everyday settings, and the necessity of overcoming all forms of oppression simultaneously. The womanist way of thinking begins with the premise: Real revolution is consciousness change. That is, real revolution consists of changing hearts and minds. Why? Because how we think and how we feel is at the root of how we act and what we create. Changing the world ultimately means changing hearts and minds, thereby changing deeds. Unless and until we change hearts and minds, another world is not possible. In other words, we may have “liberated” or
Women in Revolutions 17
18 The Wellesley Globalist “revolutionary” thoughts (e.g., peace, justice, ecological restoration and sustainability), but unless our emotions and actions correspond to these thoughts, these thoughts cannot materialize. Consciousness is the root of all that exists. Political oppression, for example, arises from a certain set of thoughts and feelings, which are in turn translated into behavior. In the psychology of prejudice, we refer to ABC: affect (feelings), behaviors, and cognitions (thoughts). For example, negative affect towards members of another group is prejudice; negative behavior towards members of another group is discrimination; negative cognitions about another group produces stereotypes. Put the three together, and you have a superiority complex—or the recipe for political oppression. However, without dismantling and eliminating the negative feelings, behaviors, and thoughts that support such dehumanizing power dynamics, you cannot truly eradicate political oppression, because these three aspects of consciousness lie at its roots. Thus, real revolutions must transform the affect, behaviors, and cognitions that create oppression in the first place. Womanists understand that one of the most important ways to shape or change how people think, feel, and act is in everyday micro-interactions. Did you hug your kids this morning? Did you smile at the people you passed on the street today? Did you stretch yourself to understand and empathize with the viewpoint of somebody who looks, thinks, believes, speaks, or loves differently than you? Did you pause when you
felt angry? Did you drink enough water and eat healthy food so that your neural system can function optimally? Did you help someone in need? Did you work to overcome one of your shortcomings? Did you take a moment to give thanks for the day? Did you take a moment to visualize world peace? Womanists recognize that the more of these kinds of things we do, the more we create that “another world” that is possible. These actions may not sound political, because they are—in fact, they are the foundation of the macro-scale politics that we seek to address with revolutions. What’s more, those— whether women, men, or people of any gender, of any background—who engage in these small interactions with intentionality and vision are, and should be acknowledged as, true revolutionaries. The things that support consciousness change—the things that make it possible and sustainable—are actually quite simple: Education, physical well-being, and a sound environment. Inner peace, good relationships, and an indomitable sense of reverence for life also help the process along, although they are just as likely to be the fruits of the process than the seeds. What would the world look like if all of our political actions revolved around these goals? Womanist activism shows us.
A Few Examples Every day, all over the world, there are people, especially women, who are not only engaging in such small actions, but who are taking this kind of activism to the next level in their communities. These people have simply seen diagnosed what needed to be done and started
taking action, inviting others to join them along sacred beings—something others refused the way. I call this the “politics of invitation” (in to see—she reformed a prison administracontrast to the “politics of struggle”), and it is tion, as well as over uniting 9,000 prisoners part of the womanist way. into a thriving community to seek human Sister Chan Khong, a Buddhist nun from and ecological betterment together. By inVietnam who now lives and works in France, stituting education programs, occupational has worked since the days of her youth during programs, food and water reforms, groomthe Vietnam War, from the principle that “men ing and sanitation reforms, gardening and [human beings] are not our enemies.” With- recycling projects, and offering multi-faith out such a perspective, which brings all people spiritual activities including meditation, she into a common embrace, we only reproduce assisted not only the prisoners, but also the the divisions that permit hierarchies and vio- general public, to see another possible world. lence to perpetually re-assert themselves. DurThe late Wangari Maathai is intering graduate school, Chan Khong discovered nationally known for her leadership of the that children outGreen Belt Moveside her university ment, for which she were peddling on was recognized with ...the most revolutionary thing the streets in order a Nobel Peace Prize that we can do right now is to to feed their famiin 2004. Her gift rethink revolution... lies and, therefore, for helping people could not attend recognize the conschool. She took nections between it upon herself to wake up early each morning democracy, peace, and environmental susand collect a handful of rice from each of the tainability took many forms, from working wealthier people in her neighborhood until she with women in small rural communities for had a large enough collection to create “rice income generation through planting trees scholarships” for the children she’d observed in to holding community development workthe streets. Since each child was able to carry shops in local languages to using song and enough rice home for a meal, Chan Khong was dance to disarm police threatening to harm able to organize them into a class which she pro-democracy protesters. She knew and orherself taught in between her own classes. She ganized the power of local cultures, everyday also used her status as a university student and people (especially women), and nature itself teacher to advocate for educational and eco- to make a larger impact on global structures nomic reforms in her community. of inequality and systems of violence and Kiran Bedi, the first female member oppression. Global environmental activism of the Indian Police Service, became famous was forever changed by her womanist methfor transforming one of Asia’s most notorious odological innovations. prisons into an ashram. By seeing prisoners as This list of women who have chosen
Women in Revolutions 19
20 The Wellesley Globalist to do revolution differently—the womanist way—could go on and on. My call to you is to get to know the work of women like Leymah Gbowee in Liberia, Pregs Govender in South Africa, Best (“Bessie”) Kilavanwa in Papua New Guinea, Immaculée Ilibagiza in Rwanda, and Susan Glisson in the United States, as well as women-run organizations like the Newtown Florist Club, the Women’s Bean Project, the Angie Brooks International Center, and LaGender, just to name a few. Here we find women in quiet yet powerful revolutions, whose work is situated in the streams of everyday life, shaping change by organizing goodwill instead of outrage, focusing on doable practical steps instead of ideology, and engaging in radical inclusion instead of “us/them” politics. These womanists make change at the root. When I was growing up, like many young people of my generation, I romanticized revolution and revolutionaries. The problems facing humanity were so glaring, and people who dared to make a difference through bold actions captivated and inspired me. From Che Guevara to Malcolm X, I wanted to grow up and be like them. The more I learned about politics, social theory, and social movements, however, the more I came to appreciate the role of everyday people, especially the unsung heroes: women. The more I learned about the amazing things that women had done—and the unique ways in which many women drove change—the more I evolved a concept of the womanist way. I saw women who were not only political, but also practical and spiritual, in ways that I now recognize as a unique form of genius. Learning
from them as well as some profound life experiences, I came to understand the virtually infinite power of consciousness. It then occurred to me that another world is not only possible, it is necessary. My conclusion is that the most revolutionary thing that we can do right now is to rethink revolution, engage the role of consciousness in change, and listen more to everyday women. * From The Womanist Reader, p. xx.
Layli Maparyan, PhD, is the new Executive Director of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College. Her books include The Womanist Idea (Routledge, 2012) and The Womanist Reader (Routledge, 2006, as Layli Phillips). Under a Contemplative Practice Fellowship from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society in 2009-2010, she studied women spiritual activists from around the world. In 2010, as a Fulbright Specialist at the University of Liberia, she helped to plan an African-centered gender studies curriculum. Recently, she led the Women’s Initiative of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, an effort to link multiple and diverse women- and girl-serving organizations toward common social movement. Before coming to Wellesley, she served as a professor in the fields of women’s studies, African American Studies, and developmental psychology.
Above: Man in Dowtown Amman, Jordan, Taken by Dana Al-Jawamis. Top left: Two boys playing in Dowtown Amman, Jordan, Taken by Dana Al-Jawamis. Bottom left: Woman in Dowtown Amman, Jordan. Taken by Dana Al-Jawamis. Bottom right: Market in Khan Khalili, Egypt, Taken by Gigi Ibrahim.
22 The Wellesley Globalist
Women in Revolutions: Perspectives
Patrice Caldwell Class of 2014 Picture By Gigi Ibrahim
Women and men marching in an Anti-Morsi Protest in Downtown Cair
On May 8, 2012 some 1,000 Egyptian women marched in Cairo chanting “Egypt for Egyptians” only to be met with calls to “go home” “where you belong” by male bystanders. Eventually a group of 200 of these men attacked the women with police standing by. Earlier in January some women who marched to demand equality were thwarted by men yelling, “Women at home, in the kitchen!” The interesting thing, though, is not that these women are risking everything to get the freedoms they deserve, rather it is that most of the world was and is still surprised that these women are doing it. However although it is something not often recognized, women have been involved in revolutions for as long as they have been occurring, whether it was United States’ fight for Independence or the revolutions of the past year that have been dubbed the “Arab Spring”. In any war people will generally remember the winners and it is their story that is written in history books. While there is no doubt that the writings of Thomas Payne, the leadership by George Washington, and the various other feats
revolutions Women in Revolutions 23
24 The Wellesley Globalist of bravery by other American and French men helped to win the American Revolution it was the women who served as the supporters and enactors of the policies of the men, as well as enacting a few themselves. Women were involved in the American Revolution mainly in two areas, domestically and on the battlefield. Domestically women were involved in activities such as the Homespun Movement, the Edenton Tea Party, the quartering of soldiers, and fundraising organizations. The Homespun Movement was one way women could get involved in the revolt against Great Britain by boycotting British fabrics. In this regard, women continued a longstanding tradition of weaving one’s own cloth to make into clothing for one’s family. This aided the revolutionaries’ efforts to be independent from Britain by allowing them to not import and consume British made materials. Prior to the well known Boston Tea Party women had been supporting the revolutionary effort by refusing to consume British tea. The Edenton Tea Party was in response to the Tea Act passed by British Parliament in 1773. On October 25, 1774 in Edenton, North Carolina, 51 women met and signed a document vowing to give up tea, along with various other British goods, “until such time that all acts which tend to enslave our Native country shall be repealed." They then sent it to British newspapers. American women also aided in revolutionary efforts by housing or quartering American soldiers. In fact, some
women such as Margaret Hill Morris even become medical caretakers, going from house to house, checking on sick or wounded soldiers. Finally, women formed organizations, such as the Ladies Association in Philadelphia, which collected funds that were then given to Martha Washington so that she could deliver them to her husband, General George Washington. Other states followed the efforts of the Ladies Association in Philadelphia, which led to the raising of over $340,000 because of the work of these women. Women were also involved on the battlefront in various ways as well. Poorer women who could either not afford to keep up their households or did not wish to live in them alone often followed the army and served as nurses, cooks, and even soldiers. One of these women Margaret Corbin took over control of her husband’s cannon after her husband was killed, and continued to run it until she was wounded. She eventually became the first woman to receive a pension from the United States Congress for military service. Other women such as Hannah Snell and Deborah champion became colonial soldiers or spies during the revolution. As a result of their involvement in the American Revolution American women were rewarded with few new freedoms and the idea of the Republican Motherhood which is was woman’s duty to instill in their children the ideas of the Republic thus preparing children to be dutiful citizens. French Women, like many women of the time, were expected to be dutiful citizens with their educations often centering on how to be a good wife and mother. Although some women had had a more passive involvement in politics before the French revolution, once it started
women began to be actively involved. On October 5, 1789, what became thousands of women began a march from the Eastern part of Paris to Versailles demanding to see the king. Eventually a group of six women were received by the king and told him their grievances. These included the high bread prices and over-splendor of the French Court. On October 6, 1789, a much larger crowd demanded and successively moved the king and his family to Paris where they would be in the service of the people. Aside from women’s involvement in marches, women such as Pauline Léon submitted petitions requesting permission to bear arms and form a defense group to protect Paris. Others like Olympe de Gouges wrote publications in favor of women’s rights such as her “Declaration of the Rights of Woman”. These women risked everything and their actions while helpful to the revolution often ended in their exile or execution. As a result of World War I women became more involved in the Russian economy by taking over jobs that were previously held by the men who were now fighting in the war. In late February of 1917, the February Revolution began, resulting in the overthrowing of the tsarist regime. On International Women’s Day, women gathered and protested for political rights, food, and an end to the war. In the Russian revolution, women were involved in the fighting and reconstructing of the new Russian government. Lenin became one of the first leaders to actively speak out about the accomplishments and need for equal women’s rights. Some women like Zinaida Patrikeeva, whose military feats earned her the one of the
highest honors given to Russian soldiers, opposed the status quo by becoming Bolshevik soldiers. Women were also reformers and revolutionaries who dedicated their life while losing almost everything in the Russian revolution. Women also took up similar duties in Cuba’s Revolutionary war from 1956-58. In fact, during the revolution Fidel Castro even allowed a group of women to take up arms and form the Mariana Grajales Women’s Platoon. In Nicaragua, women became members or Sandinistas of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, the political party in charge of the Nicaraguan revolution. They also were highly involved as guerilla warfare fighters in the armed forces or as contras as a part of the counter-revolutionary movement. Afghan women became more involved in women’s rights organizations such as the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) because of the war in Afghanistan. Meena Keshwar Kamal, and Afghan student and activist whose involvement in social change led to her assassination in 1987, founded the organization in 1977. The group supports non-violent actions. RAWA was highly involved in opposing the 2001 war against Afghanistan because of the high civilian casualties, and it has been involved in opposing legislations such as those that legalize spousal rape and child marriage. However, these are not all of the ways nor all of the revolutions that women have been involved in for that is a list
Women in Revolutions 25
26 The Wellesley Globalist that could go on for ages. The year of 2011 has been in many ways the “Year of the Arab Woman.” These women have been involved in the overthrowing of rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. They have also been involved in the continued uprisings in other parts of the Middle East. Among these women are Tawakul Karman, Raja bin Salama, Khadija Cherif, Asmaa Mahfouz, Nehad Abou El Komsan, Gamila Ismail, Dr. Nihad Abu al-Komsan, Manal al Sharif and Dalia Ziada. Much of the world only know of the men who helped to start the “Arab Spring” revolutions and who overthrew their leaders; however, it is women, such as Asmaa Mahfouz, who posted videos online urging Egyptians to oppose Hosni Mubarak, who really started and are fueling these revolutions. Socialist Russian leader Vladimir Lenin said, “The experience of all liberation movements has shown that the success of a revolution depends on how much the women take part in it.” Unfortunately, history has also shown that after the revolutions that women so bravely fight in subside, the women are usually once again reduced to a sub-par status. After the American Revolution, American women did not see much of a change in their rights even though these women particpated in the revolution through ways such as signing their names on a petition during the Edenton Tea Party. The leader of the Edenton Tea Party, Penelope Barker, stated, “We are signing our names to a document, not hiding ourselves behind costumes like the men in Boston did at their tea party. The British will know who we are.”
In the Arab world one can already see this reversal of women’s rights happening. Since so many of the pro women’s rights reforms were tied to the leading ladies of the overthrown regimes, for example “Suzanne’s Laws,” after Egypt’s Suzanne Mubarak, it has been easy for men to come and get rid of these reforms. Women’s rights in the post-revolution regimes have demonstrated limited improvements. Because of their protests and marches during the Egyptian revolution, Egyptian women have been subjected to arrests, beatings, and virginity tests. Women The military has also decided to eliminate the 64 seats in the Egyptian parliament that were reserved for women under President Mubarak. In Iraq, despite promises from the prime minister, there is only one female minister and she heads a poorly funded district. However, progress is happening. In Tunisia, women have gained 23 percent of the seats in parliament, which is a higher proportion of women than in the United States Congress. This is good news even if most of these women are a part of the leading party El-Nahda. No revolution can exist and be successful without the participation of women, so why is it that women are subjugated to even more cruelty and injustice after the revolutions? If anything, the lack of a country’s ability to recognize and reward the work of women is nothing but a sign
men marching in an Anti IMF Loan Protest in Downtown Cairo of weakness. Karl Marx once said, “social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex.” If this is true, then the world has a long way to go in order for real progress to happen. It is not only the responsibility of Arab men, but also Arab women, to fight for the rights women deserve. Just because women might not be in the forefront of every revolution does not mean that they are not participating.
Therefore, the next time a revolution is successful and people begin to inscribe in history books the accomplishments of men, society would do well to heed the words of Abigail Adams and “remember the ladies.”
Women in revolutions Women in Revolutions 27
Women in Revolutions: Culture
28 The Wellesley Globalist
Written By Mariana Zepeda Class of 2014 Picture By Mary Kenefake Class of 2013
I am just going to come out and say it: I am a little bit biased against Hugo Chávez. I grew up in a preChávez Venezuela. My dad was stationed in Caracas for his job. We moved there when I was a few months old. My brother was actually born there; it took me years to figure out that I wasn’t. About a year after we arrived, a young soldier named Hugo Chávez led a coup d’état against President Carlos Andrés Pérez’s government. The coup was unsuccessful, and Chávez was imprisoned. I vividly remember the conversations among adults when President Caldera pardoned Chávez, releasing him from jail. The news became the source of joking remarks amongst friends, poking fun at Caldera’s old age. He probably just got confused, they’d say, playing on the words “indulto,” pardon, and the word “insulto,” insult. About 80 years old, Caldera was, admittedly, a tad older than your average head of state. However, these jokes, which continued throughout Chávez’s
Growing up in presidential campaign to succeed Caldera, evidenced the opposition’s unwillingness to look at Venezuela’s sociopolitical arena straight on. As Chávez touted ideals of a socialist reform to popular clamor, the soon-to-be fierce opposition found comfort in joking remarks that utterly disregarded the possibility of an exmilitary rebel ever taking the reins of the Venezuelan government—though he had been acting as mayor of Baruta, a Caracas borough. The 1998 elections presaged violence, riots; many people simply took off and left matters in the hands of the politically underrepresented, to whom Chávez’s voice was an evensong. Chávez was simply not expected to win. This seemed an international assumption as well. But the polls closed and, lo and behold, the sun rose on a new regime. The days that followed were paralysis, stupefaction. Utter disbelief. The years that followed spurred a stark de-capitalization of the country, as major international corporations decreased their hold on Venezuela’s market, fleeing the now shaky political arena as Chávez rejoiced the demise of neoliberalism in his land. My family was forced to leave in one of many waves of personnel extraction. Nearing my father’s retirement, we had considered staying in Venezuela permanently instead of moving back to our native Mexico. But with the rise of the Chávez regime, it was all we could do to pack our boxes quickly enough, fearing the worst. Too young to grasp the many possible angles from which to view this major political transformation, I began to equate Chávez’s rise to power with the toughest part of my life thus far: leaving my home. Worse still, I began to see
n a pre-Chávez Venezuela Chávez himself as a villain, simply said—the root of my pervasive displacement. I was eleven, and I would turn my face away from magazine covers that featured his face, contorted during a passionate speech. I was conditioned to balk at the sound of his voice on television. Without knowing much about anything, I resented the Venezuelan regime deeply, equating Chávez’s success to the ramblings of an unexpectedly dangerous madman, whose message had resonated with a populace who simply didn’t know better. Mine was not an exceptional narrative. In fact, by now, this seems an almost trite way to understand this event in Venezuela’s history. The language used to describe Hugo Chávez’s rise to power and subsequent attempts to restructure Venezuela varies according to political alignment. The United States media tends to portray Chávez as a deranged autocrat, holding an entire nation hostage. And truth be told, Chávez makes this easy. His portrait is strangely riveting, flowing with eccentricities. His show, Aló Presidente, recently featured in a New York Times article, resembles the most unabashed of reality television, complete with a cluster of TV crewmen documenting the president’s every move. His loud, public condemnations of George W. Bush bordered on the ridiculous; theatricality has served Chávez well. But this one-dimensional view of Hugo Chávez, in a way, underlies his astonishing rise. Twelve years of economic decline preceded Chávez’s coup. The 1989 Caracazo riots in protest of President Carlos Andrés Pérez’s free-market absolution bred resentment, and underpinned much of the political motivation
of Chávez and his supporters. Sociopolitical stagnation permeated at the time. With this pervasive acrimony, socialism may have seemed an appealing option. But, rec-
Say what you will about the madman, but he changed the rules of the game. ognizing the global political implications of this ideology, Chávez chose to rebrand it: 21st century socialism. He proposed a shift in Venezuela’s democracy, altering the very core of the political system from representative democracy to “protagonistic” democracy, where the population participated directly in the workings of government affairs. His aim was to foster inclusion of all socioeconomic milieus, breaking the hold of the ingrained social and political elites. In material terms, this meant instituting referenda, allowing citizens to directly petition policy changes in between presidential terms and creating other grassroots strategies to ensure everyone’s continued input in governance. Interestingly enough, as I came to learn in a Latin American History class at Wellesley, Chávez’s political changes, branded ultra radical, mostly reflect a social democratic way of governance, highlighting increased state intervention at all levels of society and government. Venezuela continues to be a principal player in the international oil industry; in this sense, the
Women in Revolutions 29
30 The Wellesley Globalist new governing ideology is not antagonistic to a larger, capitalist framework. It is the introduction of cooperative and worker enterprises that pose an intrinsic structural change. However, this structural change has lagged. Despite the ideological affirmations of the Chávez regime, the system’s ultimate practicality remains up in the air. Proposing major changes requires unwavering follow-through. Although Chávez has repeatedly proclaimed commitment to these changes, it is not his follow-through that counts but that of his constituency.
With pervasive problems including crime, slowly collapsing infrastructures, power outages and a devaluation of the bolivar, it is unsurprising that much of Chávez’s support has flocked. Still, the incumbent won the election with 54 percent of the votes, in contrast to Henrique Capriles’s 45 percent—a close race, compared to Chávez’s 26 percent lead in the past elections. With the rise of a united opposition, Chávez’s role stands precarious and he will have to step up his game if he wishes to continue to implement the premises of 21st century socialism. The profound reform that Chávez promised requires a firm commitment to years of
A Christian evangelical man preaches anti-Muslim sentiments to a huge crowd of Muslims gathered at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, London for a rally. The clash of religions can be seen, not only in the Middle East, but in global cities like London.
restructuring, experimenting, debating and shifting strategies. It requires translating innovative thinking into policymaking. And the trick, no doubt, lies in implementation. Chávez has succeeded in making inroads into resolving issues of paramount importance. His housing programs, for instance, have provided marginalized families with places to live. But, from what we know, many of Chávez’s reformative projects have been left half finished. Like the archetypal Venezuelan politicians he condemned, Chávez has not kept all his promises. However, the leader’s voice remains highly resonant. And if the opposition wishes to defeat Chávez in the next elections, they need to step up their game. Already, the once-fragmented opposition has managed to create a common political platform, evidencing their desire for a clean break with this chapter in Venezuelan history. But Henrique Capriles’s archetypal Latin American leader persona—the wealthy businessman complete with a dazzling smile and expensive law degree—is simply not enough to counter Chávez’s political weight. His campaign catch phrase “Hay un camino” (which translates into “There is a way”) pushes for an utter redefinition of the Venezuelan present and future, calling the country to veer off course yet again. Capriles’s strategy, aiming to turn back the clock, only serves to heighten the polarization between two worlds instead of finding a way to negotiate between them. Moreover, characterized as Venezuela’s savior, Capriles edges dangerously close to the same farcical understandings that tinge Chávez’s madman image. Say what you will about the madman, but he changed the rules of the game. If Venezuela is ever to rise from the ashes of this attempt at rousing 21st century socialism into being, then Hugo Cáavez needs to be acknowledged as more
than a barbarous, lowlife communist with a self-aggrandizing agenda. Those who simply cannot respect Chávez as a political figure must, at the very least, recognize what lies at the root of his resonance. Put the madman’s reign into context. Let history speak a different tale, and pose a different perspective. And, above all, acknowledge the free will of the eight million plus (give or take) Venezuelan citizens who continue to believe that Chávez is their best choice. Let me be clear. Do I think that Chávez needs to leave power? Yes, personally, I do. Do I think that Chávez’s demise will occur in one fell swoop? Barring a tragic uprising or, presumably, the president’s death, I don’t think so. And even then, I doubt that Venezuela will be in for a clean break. Turning back the clock should not be the opposition’s goal. Returning to a preChávez status quo disregards the complexities of the Venezuelan political landscape, and ignores the root of Chávez’s victory in the polls. For now, that the opposition has rallied their troops, found common ground to stand on, and garnered 45 percent of the votes in what appears to be the Chávez regime’s most honest election yet—a fact I’m sure will be contested—is tremendously important. United, the opposition must find a way to move forward without villainizing their opponent or belittling his ideological stance. Furthermore, it is important to note that these elections spurred a record high voter turnout of 80 percent. Perhaps, in an unexpected twist, Chávez’s regime has indeed bred the active, participative citizenry that the country once lacked.
Women in Revolutions 31
Women in Revolutions: Culture
32 The Wellesley Globalist
Written By Leila Elabaddy Class of 2016 Pictures By Sherif Assaf Tarek Elabbady
The Egyptian revolution An old Chinese saying states that “women hold up half the sky.” Wellesley’s required reading for first year students, “Half the Sky” by Sheryl Wudunn and Nicholas Kristoff, argued that in many regions of the world, especially the Middle East, women
n from â€œher-storyâ€? do not have the right to hold up their particular half. Although this may be true in many respects, when it came to overthrowing a corrupt dictatorship during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, sparking the change needed for political, social, and economic development, Egyptian
women held up their half and more. From January 25 to February 11, 2011 the world watched attentively as Egyptians took to the streets, residing in Tahrir Square until they toppled the overbearing Mubarak regime. What many people did not understand, myself included, was that the Egyptian revolution did not begin suddenly with the 18-day takeover of Tahrir Square. In fact, numerous efforts and protests have existed since 2000. Scholars such as Political Science Professor Rabab ElMahdi from the American University in Cairo, argue that over the past twelve years, social movements and activists have been increasing as more and more people are pushed into absolute poverty. After Mubarak stepped down on February 11, 2011, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) turned Egypt into a military stronghold, promising a peaceful and transparent transition to the democratic government requested by the people. However, with a disputably nonexistent police force, escaped prisoners and a lack of stability, Egypt was no longer a safe place to live. In December 2011, women took to the streets against the military stronghold (SCAF), in response to the infamous picture and video of a woman who had been beaten by soldiers and stripped down to her bra earlier that month. In a culture where decency and conservatism are two essential components of daily life, such a horrendous event became more than just a mental
Women in Revolutions 33
34 The Wellesley Globalist shock—it became a wake-up call. Thousands of women demanded a change through this feminist protest. SCAF had failed to uphold their promise of a secure and democratic transition. The women’s main argument was that when a government is not even able to protect its women, it needs to go. Although the women did not succeed in overthrowing Egypt’s military rule, they made their voices heard, transmitting an important point to the Egyptian population and the international community. It became clear that the activists, the journalists and the analysts, were willing to do what it took to ensure their right to safe and equal living; even if it required international coverage and embarrassment to their government. When battling a dictatorship, it is important to understand that toppling the regime is not the only component of a revolu-
tion; in fact, it is probably the smallest part. The transition period, in my opinion, is the longest and most vital time period for any nation. Education, awareness and organization are three necessary factors for a successful transition. With a 40 percent illiteracy rate, Egypt lacks the first two factors. Add the political oppression that Egyptians have suffered for over the past thirty years, to the lack of education and you’ve lost the third factor. A social or economic developer might say that we must forgo older generations and focus on educating the youth. However, this view assumes that “schooling” is the only form of education, when there are many short-term projects that can be done that will help educate the whole population on a similar level. Television is a large part of the average Egyptian’s life. Through the use of commercials, movies, documentaries and television shows, television can
Egyptian civilians gathered and camped in Tahrir Square, Eqypt during the 18 day revolution in Tahrir Square. Photo courtesy of Sherif Assaf.
A hospital checkpoint out of many around Tahrir Square made up of male and female doctor volunteers. Photo courtesy of Tarek Elabbady. be used as a tool to increase awareness about specific issues and ideas. Many women have embarked on efforts to make their voices heard and to emphasize their role within the larger society through media-based education. Award winning documentary “Words of Witness” follows the story of a young female journalist, Heba Afify, who, despite her family’s worries, insists on covering the long-awaited revolution in Egypt. As Afify’s documentary reaches out to the international community and as she spends her time reporting on these historic moments, she is making history herself. On a more local level, another documentary project that sprouted up during the Egyptian Revolution called “Words of Women” has made a difference. This documentary was released in episodes, each one depicting one woman’s story through detailing her involve-
ment in the revolution and her opinion on the revolution. Documentary producer Nazli Hussein hopes that the documentary can be used as a tool for gender empowerment in Egypt and all over the world. Hussein claims the documentary covers ‘her-story’ not ‘his-story.’ Not only did women play a key part in the social reconstruction of post-revolutionary Egypt, they also delved into the politics of the new democracy. Bothaina Kamel became Egypt’s first female presidential candidate. With minimal support from the political parties and the Egyptian parliament, Kamel was unable to garner enough popular support to move ahead into the voting round. However, Kamel was not fazed; she stated that
Women in Revolutions 35
36 The Wellesley Globalist
“I didn’t feel that gender mattered; men and women were standing side by side with no differentiation. As long as you were there for the cause, our goals [were] one; freedom, human dignity, and social justice.” her main goal was to take the first step towards greater female participation within the Egyptian government. By running for president, Kamel established the possibility that other women in the future may run and possibly one day, win. As a global citizen, most of the news on foreign revolution can only be found through different forms of media, such as news articles. Despite all obstacles, Nouran Ghannam, an international exchange student from the American University in Cairo, is spending the fall semester at Wellesley College. Ghannam shared her experiences of being in Egypt during the revolution. She gave her insights on women’s roles during the movement, and how her university life changed as a result. As a participating protestor in Tahrir Square, she said, “I didn’t feel that gender mattered; men and women were standing side by side with no differentiation. As long as you were there for the cause, our goals [were] one: freedom, human dignity, and social justice.” In regards, to women’s role in health assistance in Tahrir, Ghannam said, “There were male and female doctors stationed in
Tahrir, spending hours day and night, giving out medicine. Literally they set up a hospital on the square and they would spray a yeast-based mixture in our eyes to protect [us] against the tear gas.” The revolution changed the long-term daily lives of Egyptians in many ways. In regard to university life, Ghannam stated, “The university constitution was reformed, students were given freedoms we didn’t have before, such as monitors [on] student political activism were lifted, new classes were added, old classes were reformed, more community based learning and the educational environment overall seemed more inspired.” What the women have and are doing in Egypt today by taking a stand for a greater cause is by no means unheard of—the Bastille Day in France is one of many examples throughout history. This is not explicitly a feminist movement; rather, it is an incorporation of women’s rights into the demands of the general population. As women around the world fight for gender equality, Egyptian women differ in that they are using the revolution as an instrument to ensure equality for themselves and generations to come.
Grafiti in Egypt of Nefertiti in a gas mask to honor the women of the revolution. Grafiti by Zeft.
38 The Wellesley Globalist
Women in Revolutions: Culture
Casinos and the
Written By Siqi Gao Class of 2015
A gust of cold air freshened my sweating face from the summer heat. Standing at the open door, I looked up at the magnificence of Grand Lisboa, the iconic casino and hotel building set in the heart of Macau. Countless golden pillars and crystal lights shined on the endless crowd rushing in and out.
This is Macau, the Las Vegas of Asia. A Portuguese colony from 1557 to 1999, the city of Macau now operates as a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Macau’s economy thrives on tourism, specifically its flourishing casino industry that has been in place since 1720. With the liberalization of granting casino licenses in 2001, tourists from Mainland China poured in and Macau’s tourismbased economy grew tremendously. However, as it gains enormous wealth, Macau also faces severe social problems, the biggest of which is prostitution. In and outside the hall of Grand Lisboa, young Chinese girls stroll back and forth in thin high heels and tight mini dresses, showing off their skinny legs and pausing hesitantly at every male passer-by. Some hang around the gambling tables, looking around for potential customers. The majority of gamblers—mostly tourists—are from China, but there are occasionally
foreign visitors as well. Some say that these girls have a preference for white men, although most of the girls cannot speak English at all. Most of the prostitutes in Macau are also from Mainland China, particularly from coastal cities like Shenzhen and Zhuhai. Despite stronger government efforts to minimize prostitution in recent years, the problem is far from being solved. Grand Lisboa is not the only casino that hosts prostitutes. Just as prostitution has long been illegal in Mainland China, it’s also outlawed in Macau. Why, then, is prostitution in Macau much more prevalent than that in Mainland China? The answer is simple. According to Professor Penny Wan at the University of Macau, 80 percent of Macau’s government revenue comes from tourism, which relies almost entirely on the gambling industry. As a result, casino owners hold not only enormous wealth, but also considerable political influence. For example, the Macau government issued a smoking ban in January 2012, but Grand Lisboa decided that the law would only apply to half of its
women of Macau facilities. The situation is similar for prostitution. Since casinos are usually built in a luxury compound along with hotels, some hotel rooms are regularly reserved for sex workers who bring profits for the casinos. Not surprisingly, casinos are reluctant to eradicate prostitution. While colorful girls hover around in colorful lights in the hallway, security guards stand on the edge of the crowd, pretending not to see them. Taking the elevator down to the basement, I was amazed at the huge gambling space that stretched four floors below the ground. In front of the gambling tables was a stage, where three blond strip dancers were flying up and down to the music. My European companions gaped at the scene and shouted, “Is this China?!” The crowd is almost solely made up of ordinary-looking Chinese tourists from the Mainland. To my surprise, there were quite a few middle-aged women sitting at the gambling machines. “Gambling has already become an indivisible part of people’s lives in Macau,” Professor Wan told me. It’s not uncommon to see a housewife playing at the casinos daily. “If luck favors her, she can win money for a big dinner. If there is no fortune, she can only make a simple meal for the family that night.” The waitress who guided me around was an interning university student. Many of her classmates also did summer internships at casinos for extra money. She said, “Some even take up three or four jobs at a time. Jobs are so plentiful that many students don’t focus on their studies.” She was right. When money comes so easy, there is no need to work hard and fight for a living. Casino workers usually have con-
siderable incomes, but many local people don’t bother sitting at the gambling table to shuffle cards. “It’s too boring. Who wants to sit there all day when you can find other jobs to do?” the waistress asked. Professor Wan also talked about Macau’s serious problems with education, which are all inevitably associated with the gambling industry. “Being a professor here is really hard,” she laughed. “The students just don’t do the work. If I ask them to study hard in order to find a good job, they simply say that they already have enough money from working in the casinos.” One of my trip companions, a student at the University of Macau, told me something even more startling. “There are prostitution ads all over the ground in our university,” She said with a sad smile. “These prostitutes are cheap so as to compete with those in the high-ends casinos.” As the gambling industry brings drastic economic growth to Macau, it also creates huge social impacts, particularly on the lives of women. From prostitutes in casinos to college girls, from female casino dealers to housewives, women find their lives involved in the gambling industry in one way or another. On the other hand, the government is often trapped between sustaining economic growth and restricting the negative social consequences of the gambling industry.
Women in Revolutions 39
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