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My personal journey to PulseWire: painting my landscape

I am lucky I live in a wonderful sunny country where life is good and I have not to struggle to survive. There is nothing heroic in my daily life nevertheless I feel my voice should be heard I feel I have something to say, something that could be interesting that illustrates what's going on in the country of “bella vita”- that is Italy. I had the chance to travel all around Europe and to live in Sweden and Austria for a while. It changed completely my view about my country and I began to think seriously about women's rights and to gather informations and data.
The result of my increasing interest in the topic is stunning. In Italy the gender gap is wide in every field and women are discriminated in the economic and political sphere, it is the worse place where to live for a woman in the Europe Union. These findings are motivating me to write a blog about gender issues in Italy and about women's rights worldwide with a focus on middle east and muslim women in the west (related to my accademic background). I had though it would have been useful to write the blog in english to reach a wider audience and exchange informations and best practices with other countries but I didn't feel enough confident with the language. I had started looking for training materials in the web when I came across worldpulse and VOF initiative. This was my chance to learn how to manage an online journal and to force myself to write in english. I wrote my first post for this contest last week and I had so many comments it is really rewarding. People understand what I'm talking about and they even like it.
I study economic development and I have been studing arabic for years. I went in Yemen a couple of summers ago to study arabic and I got to know the women beneath the burqa. What I learned from that experience is that it is easier and worthy that every voice speaks up for itself. You know your country, your story your tradition, we can argue, exchange points of view and informations but you are the best painter of your landscape. I can describe what I see, women wearing black burqa for example, but not how you feel and what is better for you. This is what I like most about worldpulse, it gives the possibility to speak up.This kind of citizen journalism has two big strenghts it comes directly from the source, from the grassroot level. Wonderful personal stories that are the story of a single woman, but also an authentic split of her community and its culture. The other strenght is that it points out a female feature, the collective action as a mean for empowerment. In every form, networking gives women greater access to power. First of all it empowers women because they share concerns and they don't feel alone, women feel they are struggling for their rights with other women: the request has legitimacy and the voice is louder.

Comments

alia's picture

thanks my friend for this

thanks my friend for this assignment , you gave me new information about the sitution of women in Italy ,i like the idea that every women should talk about herself and raise her voice , yes that is the great thing here in world pulse

with love
Alia

Pam_fem's picture

Hi Alia,

Hi Alia,
thank you! I am glad you liked it. I am going to write more about Italy and to check your "paintings" about your country and your experience.
All the best
Pam

Well said Pam! And thanks for sharing your experience about Italy and Yemen. It is right that we need the women behind the burqa to speak for themselves, but at the same time, we need you, someone who lived, talked and conversed with these women to report back to their country, government and institutions that keep stereotyping and speading myths about Arab Women. You are a true voice. An informed one. So thank you for taking the time to study Arabic and talk to Arab women.

Question though: did you have a stereotype about Muslim/Arab women that completed vanished after you went to Yemen? I am just curious to know. I hate stereotypes as much as ignorance and illiteracy.

Salam :)

Najwa

"I am only one, but still I am one."

Pam_fem's picture

ahlan wa sahlan!

Hi Najwa,
Thank you for appreciating my post and my (huge) efforts with the arabic language. yes, I had stereotype. I mean I have a couple of italian women friends of mine that are from tunisia and lebanon and I know quite well them so that I have no prejudices about arab women.
But to be honest when I arrived in Yemen the first night at the airport I looked around and I felt pity for those women, I thought something like "poor women that are forced to be all black covered they are looking at me willing to be free of wearing whatever they want". I was wrong they were not jealous of me wearing trousers they were likely worry about me alone in the airport. I spent a lot of time with my teacher talking about the burqa she was an incredible woman and she erased every single doubts I had about women and Islam.
But I have to tell you that in my country there are terrible prejudices about muslim women, people think muslim women have no rights at all that for each man there are a couple of wives and that stoning is a widespread practice. I am sorry for that and I'm trying to do my best to spread my knowledge and informations about muslim women.
It is not to say that arab women enjoy full rights and few discriminations it is just to say that using feminism to rise xenophobic fears and religious intolerance against muslims it is for me unacceptable.

Salam
Pamela

noreens's picture

Hi Pam, Your comments about

Hi Pam,

Your comments about Muslim women are very refreshing. It is nice to hear someone from the west saying these things. It's too bad that there are so many stereotypes about Islam and Muslim women, and the covering. I think that most of the women who cover want to. It is a choice they are making, and they do not have any regrets when they put on the head cover. I can not comment about the burqa though. Where I live, there are women who cover and there are many who dress very western. I have seen almost all my friends go from not covering their heads, to covering, and they are 100% sure of what they are doing. This is what they want, how they want to dress, and they should not be judged for it. Because I do not cover my head, some non-Muslims make comments to me against the cover, and it makes me realize that they just do not understand. It is beyond me why they do not, because the 3 major religions have some type of head covering for women.

Claudia's picture

Pamela, I found your entry

Pamela,

I found your entry very refreshing! I lived in France twice. The first time, I lived in Paris and was unaware of its racial genealogies or identity politics. I think I was also very young and living my dream of being surrounded by Parisian architectural beauty, cuisine and fashion, so I paid less attention to these histories. When I returned my second time, I lived in Nantes and I taught at 3 different ZED schools. These schools primarily focus on "integrating" immigrants into mainstream French society.

At times, I became frustrated because coming from a background where part of my family is Lebanese, I thought I understood all people from Arab/Middle Eastern backgrounds. However, I learned that identity and geographic location are very intertwined. While there were some similarities, I learned that there are also differences in the way the Arab/Islamic communities identify in France.

I was also highly frustrated because of the ways in which the students were treated.

Anyhow, all of this is to say, I too am studying Arabic Literature and Culture. I am currently in the process of applying for a Fulbright to Morocco to collaborate with women's organizations.

Can I ask what you are studying/what your focus is? Also, do you have a link to your blog?

Kindly,

Claudia

Pam_fem's picture

Hi my dear

Dear Claudia,
Thank you for your comment. you are right arabic world it is so different identity and geographic location are very intertwined. It is different the way of speaking arabic, it is different to be raised in Morocco than in Siria for the landscape and the colonial history, for habits and custom. The geographic and historical context matters!I agree with you.
I've studied economic development in a bachelor and master's programme with a focus on middle east and arabic language. I started to be interested in women's rights during my erasmus programme in sweden. Then I started to attend some courses on women's rights and I wrote my bachelor thesys and currently I'm writing my master's thesys on gender issues. Last spring I was an intern in Vienna in an NGO dealing with women's rights.
I haven't started to write a blog yet I don't feel enough confident with my english. I hope this contest will push me to open it.
What about you?Tell me more about your plan to go to Morocco. I would love to work in middle east too, I should study French as well.
It is nice to "meet you"
Pam

Bhavya's picture

I enjoyed your post. I did

I enjoyed your post. I did not know that Italian women suffer prejudices and discrimination. I would like to know what this discrimination is for Italian women?

I started working at a conflict resolution organisation 6 months ago, my education was only marketing and media studies and I am finding it so interesting to learn about inequalities in other cultures. I was not aware that so many were voiceless until I joined VOF

Pam_fem's picture

they do!!!

Dear Bhavya,
thank you for posting a comment. wow you're working in a really interesting field, congrats!. I'm writing about italian women's challanges in the next post. I would be so glad if you read it...coming really soon.
Nice to meet you here
Hugs
Pam

Kathleen Abood's picture

The Artist within us All

You have given us a visual image of how misunderstood women are around the world. Your personal landscape describes the way we see women in various diverse cultures without truly comprehending their true life experiences. Our own narrow perspectives, so influenced my male dominated media paints all women separate and isolated. Objectified. All that is about to change. Thank you for shining your creative light on our future greatness!

Kathleen Abood

Pam_fem's picture

Dear Kathleen

your comment is merely awesome, it is exactly how I wanted my landscape look like. Women as an etherogeneous group facing different challanges but never really diveded.
Thank you
Cheers
Pam

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