Feminist and Peace Activist

Dr Pamela ChrabiehA student of mine, studying Theology, future clerk, asked me a while ago: ‘‘Why, a woman ‘like you’ (describing me as ‘young trendy secular woman’), not attached to any religious function, is interested in religions, cultures, philosophy, politics, etc. in a country like Lebanon where the production of knowledge – if it exists – on religious matters is in the hands of men and especially religious men? Are you on a mission?”

Am I on a mission? Indeed. At least, this is what I feel, what I believe.

Why a mission? First, what I do for a living is in fact a blend between passion, a quest for truth, an acute sense of discovering/uncovering mysteries, an escape from certain traumatic dimensions, a self-therapy, challenges, a need to turn dreams into reality, the urge to help others in need, the strong belief in learning from the past to live a better present where every moment counts (“It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on Earth and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it were the only one we had” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross); and… the belief in consulting my hopes, not my fears, to think about unfulfilled potential, not frustrations, to concern myself with what is possible for me to do, not with what I tried and failed in.

Peace is one of the many battles I am fighting for, both Internal (on a personal level, inner-peace and in the private sphere) and External (contributing to build peace in society, in the public sphere). ‘A woman’s place is in the kitchen’; this well-known saying places the woman in the private sphere, out of public life and it raises a number of key assumptions when thinking about this ‘woman’. We imagine her to have a husband and children, for whom she is dutifully preparing food, whilst he is at work, providing income and protecting his family. We also assume that this woman is of peace, caring and non-violent.

However, the basic premise behind my peace activism as a woman is not a question of feminine characteristics versus masculine characteristics, nor a matter of chromosomes or menstrual cycles; it has to do with my refusal, as a human being and as a woman, to accept war as a solution to solve conflicts, no matter how complicated they may be, and it is my answer to the suffering of women from discrimination and oppression throughout the world and especially in the Middle East – women who have also remained absent from peace building processes and negotiations. Furthermore, one of my goals is to bring out the interconnectedness of all forms of violence – domestic, societal, state based and inter-state and its gendered dimension – in order to inform and influence peace building processes from a feminist perspective.

Finally, my peace activism related to my feminism is a political reasoning, position and praxis.

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  1. Love it! Thank you Dr.! A woman doesn’t necessarily equal to Peaceful being. There is work to be done on a personal level, like you do… I agree with the necessity for feminism to be truly advancing women’s rights, needing thus to be contributing to peacebuilding. And vice-versa!

  2. Superbe article en ce matin! Je suis d’accord avec le commentaire d’Abir.
    Feminist analysis contributes to a more comprehensive meaning of peacebuilding than a non-gendered analysis.

  3. Think about who is injured and who dies during wars—who comes to mind? Most people, both men and women, follow patriarchal thought by identifying combat soldiers who are mostly men. In fact, the predominant casualties of today’s wars, estimated to be as high as 95 percent, are civilians—the majority of whom are women and children.

  4. There are feminists who say, by a fundamental belief that time, money and
    human capital swallowed up in combat might be better spent addressing human needs
    at home and abroad. For the women’s movement to ever really take on patriarchy, it
    must take on militarism. “The military construct has made us damsels in
    distress. We’re constantly told that we don’t know enough, that this is not our realm,
    that we know nothing of the global issues of our day. First, that mythology kept us out
    of politics. It certainly keeps [most of] us out of policy.”

  5. It’s so easy for people to demonize, to tell you you’re not an authority, you’re just a woman. It takes real initiative and backbone to work in the antiwar movement. It takes a lot of courage!! In the Middle East and elsewhere…

  6. Thank you for this post Dr. And for the opportunity to share our thoughts and opinions on this blog and the Facebook Page. As long as there are injustice and discrimination against women and other groups in the region, we cannot stop our fight.

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