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feminism in the arab world 

Aya Chebbi, Dima Matta, Randa Abdel-Fattah and Sara Saleh

Going far beyond stereotypes, this is an invaluable insight into the underground of feminist activism across the Arab world.

In the Studio

“She's free to do what she wants, and free not to do it.”

Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian writer and feminist

exploding myths and assumptions 

In a global feminist movement, our understanding of women's rights needs to go far beyond the English-speaking world. 

Arab women are so often pigeonholed, orientalised and othered in western discussions about feminism. But the reality is there are strong feminist and LGBTQI movements across the Arab world. This panel, co curated by artist, poet and activist Sara Saleh, challenges the assumptions so frequently made by westerners, that Arab women are subjugated and oppressed, by giving space for some of the loudest activist voices across the middle east.

This session will demonstrate that discussions about women in the Arab world can go much deeper than “why do you wear hijab?”, and explore the issues and concerns, both political and personal, for Arab women and LGBTQI people.

More about...

Sara Saleh

Sara Saleh is an award-winning Arab-Australian poet, human rights activist and long time campaigner for refugee rights and racial justice. She has worked for Amnesty International and CARE International in Australia and the Middle East, in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, and on the Syrian border.

Sara is currently co-curating the upcoming anthology, Growing Up Arab in Australia (Picador 2019). As the recipient of the first Affirm Press Mentorship for Sweatshop Writers 2018, Sara is developing her debut fiction novel. Sara is a proud Bankstown Poetry Slam 'Slambassador'. She also sits on the board of national advocacy organisation GetUp!.


Aya Chebbi 

Aya Chebbi is an award-winning Pan-African feminist. She is the first African Union Youth Envoy  and the youngest diplomat at the African Union Commission Chairperson’s Cabinet. She is the founder of multiple platforms such as Youth Programme of Holistic Empowerment Mentoring (Y-PHEM) coaching the next generation to be positive change agents, Afrika Youth Movement (AYM), one of Africa’s largest Pan-African youth-led movements and Afresist, a youth leadership program and multimedia platform documenting youth work in Africa. She served on the Board of Directors of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, the World Refugee Council and Oxfam Independent Commission on Sexual Misconduct. 


Randa Abdel-Fattah

Randa Abdel-Fattah is the award-winning author of 11 novels and is published in over 15 countries. She has worked as a lawyer, human rights advocate and community volunteer with different human rights and migrant and refugee resource organisations. She has a PhD in Sociology and is a researcher on Islamophobia, racism and everyday multiculturalism in Australia. Randa is currently working on the feature film adaptation of Does My Head Look Big In This? In 2017 her novel Where the Streets Had A Name was adapted to the stage by Australia's leading children's theatrical company. Randa is a regular guest at schools around Australia addressing students about her books and the social justice issues they raise and is a regular guest at writer's festival


Dima Matta

Dima Matta is a writer, actress, and an instructor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Balamand. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University as a Fulbright scholar. In 2014, she founded Cliffhangers, a storytelling platform that hosts monthly storytelling events, workshops, and other parallel events. 


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