The Future Stands on the Shoulders of the Women

Since I started this blog I signed up for a bunch of different google alerts, news alerts on specific topics that interest me. I give google some keywords of issues I want news updates on and several times a day (which is one of the settings of the application) I receive emails with links to all possible internet sources on those topics…God bless google. So my alerts are about women’s rights in the middle east, the green movement in Iran, etc. And my eyes have been peeled open by some of the things I come across in these alerts. I realized how silly it is to say that women in the middle east are silenced. It’s just not true. Yes, many are…many suffer at the hands of dogma or regulations, we hear all about those things…but soooo many women are so incredibly active, so bold, so fearless and Eloquent, my God.

The most inspiring event that I experienced in my life so far  was hearing Shirin Ebadi talk at Columbia University. It was 2 or 3 years ago, she was there to give a talk about her new autobiography, Iran Awakening and also about the role of women in world peace.

She is such a sweet and endearing lady…tiny with very round features…big Iranian eyes. I wanted to hug her (and I actually did!) she had a translator for the talk, and at the end she had a lengthy q&a session. One student asked her the star question, “Ms. Ebadi, what do you think is the role of women in the future of Iran.” Ebadi smiled knowingly, and in her tone of voice I could hear her saying (eventhough it was in Farsi), “Listen, hunny; the ‘Future of Iran’… it will stand On the Shoulders of the Women.” Meaning, the point is not the “role” women will play in it….it’s just not going to happen WITHOUT the women. Haha :)

My mom would always tell me, if you look at the countries that are suffering the most, they are the ones in which the women are the most oppressed. That’s because, as we all should know by now…a society will never go very far if it ties up the hands of half its population. Period. It’s logic.

So, yes, the inspring article of the evening is the following: http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2010/04/05/feature-02

Let’s just note, please, what this woman looks like…oh, yes, she is in a black burkah

But guess what? I’m alllllll the way here, thousands of miles away and I can identify her words, her name, her message. So I guess forcing us to speak behind a black bag still doesn’t drown out our voices, amazing! And it sure doesn’t make the clerics’ postulations and fatwas any louder.

So how did I hug Shirin Ebadi? :) After her talk they had a little cocktail thing where she was signing books for people. I bought her book and went to her to sign. At this point i knew ummm…five words in farsi. But I managed to walk over, say “salaam, hale shomaa khoobe?” (formal way of saying, hello, how are you?) She responded graciously and said something to the effect of (i believe) “shall I sign this for you?” I answered with my eyes, since i had exhausted my farsi at that point. Then when she was done she asked me, “Farsi harf mizani?” (Do you speak farsi?) And i said something like “ye kam” (a little). She got very enthusiastic, took me by the arms and told me “Learn Farsi, learn it well and use your words, you are Iranian.”

I know what I am. I am Turkish born, and my father is Iranian and has super genes that completely dominated my phenotype :) But she hit it on the mark…words are incredible power. May we use our words to bring peace.

Shabbat Shalom!

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