Women Living Under Muslim Laws, in collaboration with London Middle Eastern Institute, organised a screening of the Trials of Spring at SOAS, University of London, on the 28th of October 2015.
These hard-hitting, forceful and stirring short films centred on the experience of women during the Arab Revolution of 2011. Featuring activists from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen, the films showcased snapshots of key women who had an impact on their own communities, inspired others, and suffered unbelievable cruelty at the hands of their respective regimes.
The event was chaired by Professor Nadje Al-Ali, Professor in the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS.
The films were followed by a short, five-minute talk by a panel of three WLUML networkers: Afaf Jabiri, Aya Chebbi, and Sahr Mediha Al-Naas.
Afaf Jabiri, activist-researcher and contributor to a wide range of research initiatives and advocacy campaigns in Jordan and across the Arab region, is a council member of WLUML. She has recently completed her PhD in Gender Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies. Her talk centred on the experience of women during the revolution; how they were drawn in, how they were affected, and how the state responded.
Aya Chebbi, who participated in the WELDD workshop in Cairo 2013, is an award winning Pan-African feminist activist and blogger well-known for her activism during Tunisia’s Revolution 2010-2011. She is co-founder of the Voice of Women initiative, and was named as one of Africa’s most Outstanding Young Women leaders in 2013, the Young Achiever of the Year 2015 by Forbes, and received the Excellence in Leadership award from the African Viewpoint Journal 2015. She is currently studying for an MSc in African Studies at SOAS. Her talk focused on Tunisia, and stressed the problematics of “The Arab Spring” as a Western narrative.
Sahar Mediha Al-Naas, also a participant of the WELDD workshop in Cairo 2013, is the founder and director of Libyan Women for Peace and Freedom. She is a Research Fellow at Muslim for Progressive Values and a member of WILPF. Born and educated in Libya, she moved to the UK in 1995 and has worked with women’s organisations in both Libya and the UK. Al-Naas’ research focuses on Libyan women’s political representation in the post Gaddafi era. She is a Co-author of: Women’s Bodies in Post-Revolution Libya: Control and Resistance, in: Rethinking Gender in Revolutions and Resistance: Lessons from the Arab World. Her talk focussed on the strides and setbacks that women have faced in Libya since the revolution.
The three panelists in conversation with Nadje Al-Ali, Professor at SOAS and chair for the event
The event saw a full house, with a Q&A that was filled with comments and queries from inspired activists speaking about their own contexts, brimming with eagerness to talk about feminism, fundamentalism, women on the frontline, and human rights.