WLUML's First Transformational Feminist Leadership Workshop (Jan 13- Jan 21)

Earlier this month, WLUML held its first transformational feminist leadership workshop as part of our ‘Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratization’ program.  Activists  from Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Tunisia gathered in Cairo for one week of capacity building and strategizing. All participants were grassroots activists and/or feminists that are publicly engaged in advancing the cause of gender justice and equality.

These audacious young activists were joined by some of the most inspiring trainers (academics, human rights lawyers, journalists, researchers), who shared their knowledge and decades-long experience of fighting on the front lines, and negotiating change in their respective localities and transnationally.

Following the recent ‘revolutions’ and upheaval in the MENA region, this workshop aimed to explore a broad conceptual and practical understanding of feminist leadership, by locating it within the current context of ‘political change’, and envisioning how feminist leadership can be transformative and sustainable.  

Stories and cases spanned decades of struggle in cultures different yet similar, in that they are to varying degrees defined by laws said to be derived from Islam. Trainers leading the sessions on human rights, culture, religion, feminism, and leadership were drawing on their personal experiences from Malaysia, Iran, Senegal, to Afghanistan, whilst participants talked about the challenges they face today in their struggle in the MENA region.

The workshop was a vibrant space where feminist alternatives to the legal, political, socio-cultural, economic status quo were envisioned, debated, and discussed. Different modes of engagement and strategies were exchanged, which made for a very informative and empowering experience. Ultimately, the aim was to bring women living under Muslim laws together to share their narratives, skills and good practice, to return to their respective contexts armed with more knowledge, a refined sense of hope, confidence and belief in their ability to make change.

More importantly, this week was a celebration of our collective struggle, a juncture of solidarity, a reminder that we are not alone in our dreams, and not alone in our struggle to realize an egalitarian and just society.