Where Do You Stand?

While away on a trip to Amman, Jordan, visiting the city’s most popular artsy scenes, we stumbled upon a lovely, authentic café serving tea. And there, on our way out, we were stopped by 3 young individuals who asked if we wanted to take part in their campaign. They had white paper signs scattered on a square table with Arabic writing and cross marks and circles. On a closer look we made out what the words said and what the marks were for and immediately accepted.

The were campaigning for women by picking a few old and traditional Arabic sayings that targeted women and rephrasing them so they read in a modern, empowering way.

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The phrases in the above pictures read (from left):

“The woman, even if she went to Mars, at the end of the day she belongs in the kitchen”

The corrected phrase is:

“The woman has been to Mars and has engineered rockets”

“The girl’s degree is her kitchen (cooking)”

The correct phrase is:

“The girl’s degree is her knowledge and work”

Note: In Arabic the ending words rhyme.

On a closer look at their website Aynanaqef.com I come to realise who they really are. Ayna Naqef? or Where Do We Stand? is a movement, an on-going campaign, started by a few volunteers in Jordan who in a matter of months have doubled and tripled. The campaign supports all women’s causes by interacting with the public, getting petitions signed, individually saving lives of many women and asking the profound question ‘where do you stand?’

Where do we stand in this when we’re faced with a situation that’s so alarmingly wrong, unjust, harmful, outdated, dangerous, and fatal? Many of the campaigners have personal stories they’ve shared on the website and there are many more stories that are left untold about the truth in women’s rights in so many parts of the world just like Jordan where honour killings still take place to this day! There are almost no rights for women here and sadly it’s the people closest to these women who cause the biggest injustices. They’re the fathers, brothers and husbands. It’s through these stories that the volunteers have asked themselves the question ‘where do I stand?’ and have made a promise to campaign, support and help end age-old, extreme traditions and thoughts that are simply wrong.

An even more terrible fact that I’ve come to notice in many women is their own view on their rights. Dear women, I urge you to recognise that you do have a right in this world, an equal one to the man. Society, religion and culture will not give you the right nor will they protect you or stand by you. It’s up to you to fully believe and commit to stating your right and campaigning for it in any and every way possible. Dear woman, you’re the only one who can make the change and end this discrimination and the first step is your refusal to accept these standards because you are a human and your life has a worth. And these words may seem like feathers comparing to the grim reality but the brain washing, the fear, the acceptance, the silence has got to stop. And we have to find a way to end it.

This is a plea to the community here to do the same, the men before the women and the women before the men. Where do you stand?

Follow the campaign on Facebook.com/aynanqef

Good wishes and thoughts to all!