Women Who Make Change: Celebrating International Women's Month and Arab Mothers
Arabic calligraphy of the word Mother
By Emiliya Strahilova/Arab America Contributing Writer
It’s still March–a month full of surprises as unpredictable as women. Although we admire Arab American women during the whole year, we would like to take a special moment before the end of this month, to put in order our appreciation and make it easy, for Arab America’s readers to find.
In addition, today, on March 21, around 20 Arab countries celebrate Mother’s Day. It’s a major holiday, introduced for the first time by the Egyptian journalist Mustafa Amin in 1943. It only got accepted and promoted widely in the 50s during the 20th century. Since then, its popularity has increased and nowadays March 21 is a symbol of how generously most Arabs around the world show their gratitude to the women who raised them.
We value people who are innovative and leave their mark to whatever they dedicate their time and efforts to. It has always been challenging to belong to a group which tends to be underestimated sometimes. In that sense, Arab American women deserve a double dose of respect for contributing to our society. They represent various environments, career fields, styles, and wear different hats but are similarly involved in changing the reality for the better.
We prepared a compilation of articles we recently wrote, inspired by the exuberance of Arab American women and mothers. Here is how the female part of the population affects our private and public life.
“Women take on many roles throughout their lives as professionals, friends, sisters, daughters, wives, and mothers. In her role as a mother, a woman often finds herself eager to pass on her culture, heritage, and traditions to her children. For centuries, women have been credited as the family members ensuring that heritage identity remains embedded throughout their society at intimate and universal levels.” In this piece, Arab America contributing writer, Nisreen Eadeh, reminded us of simple techniques which mothers use to keep the precious culture of their past, such as feeding their families with cucumbers and dates instead of Cheetos and Gushers.
“By 2030, the United Nations would like to see a world where this gender work gap is closed. In order to inspire more girls to join their local economies, Arab America has compiled a list of 30 Arab American women who have been influencing U.S. society for decades. Some light up America with their work; others are the first in their field; and some are unsung heroes.” Browse through Arab America’s list last year of women who serve as an example in their professions as politicians, artists, journalists, and doctors.
Don’t miss Dr. Amal David’s priceless advice to the young generation of Arab American women. Dr. David is a co-founder of Arab America and has long and valuable experience in mentoring and education. In this letter to those who are currently on their path to success, she speaks about the importance of being positive about your roots; expressing yourself; building your network, and many other fundamental factors for achieving personal fulfillment. The steps are easy to follow but they take us a long way.
“In this month heralded as Women’s History Month, the world needs to acknowledge women’s history in the workplace, particularly in the fields of science. Their “hidden” accomplishments are reminders to always encourage more diversity in these typically white-male dominated industries.” Following the effect of the movie Hidden Figures. acknowledging African American women in science, the Arab America Ambassador blogger, Vivian Pham, wrote an analogy of the story of the characters of the movie, presenting important women scientists from the Arab world.
It’s Mother’s Day in the Arab world and the reasons for loving our mothers are countless. Sometimes we are irritated, sometimes we laugh when we have a mother/daughter conversation: “Arab culture certainly has its quirks. While women are highly respected in Arab American society, mothers will always look at them as baby girls. Because of this, young Arab American women are faced with certain questions that no one else gets. Some are funny, some are strange, and others are just plain annoying. But at the end of the day, we know our mothers love us to death and want what’s best for us.”
This week we are recognizing Arab American women who invest all their passion in defending their beliefs. We call them activists for not only proclaiming but also fighting for human rights, justice, and transparency. Arab America contributing writer, Noor Almohsin, compiled a selection of 10 personalities whose inclination motivates us: “In modern civil societies, activism is a basic activity for influence, change, and freedom of expression. Arab American women have proven their role advocating for causes they believed in, encounter or simply support. This article sheds light on 10 female Arab Americans who practiced their right to advocate and bring change into their communities.”
Yes, inner beauty is a treasure but we don’t want to neglect the outer appearance too. It’s a significant part of womanhood and sometimes even dominates women’s thoughts. The wisdom of the Arab world can be implemented in the modern Arab American lifestyle. Arab America contributing writer, Myrna Daher, is revealing beneficial tricks: “Arab women have been known for their beautiful almond-shaped eyes, clear olive toned skin and perfect eyebrows. Interesting enough, Arabs own the large eyes with dramatic eyeshadow and tailored well-groomed eyebrows. Keeping the simplistic complexion with the drama just for the eyes and lips. Let’s take a look into an Arab women’s routine for eyes, eyebrows, complexion, and lips.”
Many Arab American women write and through their work they enlighten us and give us a rich picture of the past and the present. There are poets, playwrights, publicists, and screenwriters who provoke, reflect, and touch the soul. Here we focus on a small number of women in prose who made Arab Americans proud: “We picked talented writers whose work reflects on their Arab past and roots, as well as on the reality of the Arab identity today. With this list, we celebrate the imagination and the creativity that make pictures and concepts alive and reachable. We don’t claim these are the only authors who deserve attention; there are plenty more Arab American women publicists, novelists, essayists, poets, screenplay writers, etc, who have proven themselves over time or are coming into the spotlight now. We would love to introduce them in our future articles.”
Recently in our research, we found many examples of ambitious and hardworking Arab American women in politics. Still, we don’t know how much they sacrifice to pursue a career in public affairs. Here is a list of Arab women who probably met even more oppression on their way. Their accomplishments are notable and encouraging: “For Arab women, in particular, outsiders have questioned their lack of representation in government and decision-making positions. In fact, the Arab world has the least amount of women holding government positions out of any geographic region in the world–an issue many are trying to tackle.”