Beirut, 14 March 2018 (United Nations Information Centre)– Lebanese NGO Assabil, in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre in Beirut (UNIC Beirut), held a panel discussion entitled “When a woman speaks: readings in 70 current books from Lebanon and 100 folk tales,” on Tuesday 13 March, 2018, to mark International Women’s Day.
The discussion panel, which was moderated by Lebanese author Najla Jreissati Khoury, revolved around women’s portrayal in traditional stories and their roles in shaping society. In her intervention, Khoury emphasized the importance of women’s voices in decision making, and the impact that women’s representations in literary fields can have on culture. Instead of being portrayed as victims, she concluded, women in Levantine tales were resourceful, wise, rebellious, adventurous and were eventually the characters who save the day.
UN Women Programme Coordinator Jumanah Zabaneh, spoke at the event, highlighting the work of UN Women in Lebanon, particularly two recent studies: one on the concept of “manhood” in local society and the other an empirical study on gender equality in Lebanon. Highlighting some of the findings and recommendations of the studies, Zabaneh said there has been a small and gradual change in the perception of stereotypical roles of men and women in Lebanon, but men mostly still resisted gender equality. The studies recommended, among others, re-visiting gender roles in educational curricula, children’s tales and local community games to reflect fairness and gender equality.
UNIC Beirut had launched a one-year partnership with NGO “Assabil”, which falls under SDGs 4 and 17 on education and partnerships. The partnership entails implementing several activities throughout the year such as educational courses on the SDGs, “Together” campaign, and culture of peace for students and schools visiting Assabil libraries, in addition to movie screenings and book reviews on UN work and priorities. UNIC Beirut and Assabil will also organize events around UN International Days, including World Book and Copyright Day (23 April), and UN Arabic Language Day (18 December), among others.