Arab Winner of 'Amal Clooney Scholarship' will Fight for Women's Rights
SOURCE: STEP FEED
BY: RAZAN MNEIMNEH
The winner of this year’s Amal Clooney Scholarship – which annually sends one female Lebanese student to a boarding school in Armenia – is a 16-year-old who wants to fight child marriage and marital rape in Lebanon.
As part of her scholarship, Omary will attend a two-year program at United World College in Dilijan, Armenia, to complete an international baccalaureate program.
“Sexism and abuse of women and children are still widespread … Women are stigmatized,” explained Omary, the fourth recipient of this scholarship, adding that “they are generally seen as weaker than men and we need change”.
The Lebanese teenager believes everyone “deserves education, health and security” while emphasizing on the refugee population who are often left out.
“I want to connect with people and listen to them – that is how you trigger change and that is what Amal does. She listens to the people and defends them,” Omary explained to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Clooney has made a name for herself, defending women’s rights and fighting the patriarchy
In 2015, the Lebanese-British lawyer partnered with 100 Lives to launch an annual scholarship that will “send one female student from Lebanon to United World College in Dilijan, Armenia, each year to enroll in a two-year international baccalaureate program.”
“This scholarship will give young women from Lebanon the opportunity of a lifetime,” Clooney said in a statement.
“Cross-cultural learning and studying abroad can be transformative. I am grateful to 100 Lives for helping to open doors for these bright and talented young women.”
Her marriage to American actor George Clooney might have put her in the limelight, but she’s been a champion of human rights for years.
She’s previously taken several cases including that of an ISIS sex-slavery survivor from Iraq, who she legally represents.
She also stood up for minorities and demanded that ISIS and Turkey’s genocides against Yazidis in Iraq and Armenians, respectively, be officially acknowledged.
Activists and NGOS have been fighting archaic personal status laws in Lebanon for years
Because each religious sect in Lebanon has its own personal status laws, including those of marriage and divorce, there is no minimum age for marriage in Lebanon.
According to a 2016 UNICEF report, six percent of women in Lebanon between the age 20 to 24 got married before turning 18.
Lebanese NGO KAFA has long been fighting for change, launching campaign after campaign in an effort to amend Article 9 of the Lebanese Constitution, which gives religious authorities the freedom to impose their own laws on various issues including marriage, divorce, and child custody.
In 2015, KAFA launched a child marriage stunt to raise awareness on the lack of a unified civil personal status law in the country.
In 2017, Lebanese Democratic Women’s Gathering (RDFL), a secular non-governmental women’s rights organization, also launched a campaign titled “Not Before 18”.