I want to take a moment to celebrate Women’s History Month with you. This month is meant to honor the achievements of women and their contributions to the world. It’s a time for men and women to recognize the efforts of the women who have come before us. Women who fought for the right to vote. Women who fought to be a part of the workforce. Women who fought for an education and to become the head of nations and organizations. There is a long way to go, and the battle is unique for all of us, but this month asks us to simply recognize the women who have given us a safe space to have these conversations.
I’m the first generation of women in my family pursuing a life of design, a life marked by and lived according to my own choices, and not those of societal or cultural expectations. This doesn’t mean that the path is void of struggle. In fact, it’s the opposite. There are many obstacles and challenges in my way, precisely because I’m part of a generation of firsts in the Arab world. There is hope, but the fight for rights is very much present. Yet the very option of a fight is what our predecessors strove to give us. So, in the midst of this struggle, I think of other brave women and feel a little lighter. I’m fighting for what I want, but also to continue and honor the work of those who came before me!
These days I can’t help but think of the women in my family and especially my maternal grandmother. She was one of the first women to drive a car in Lebanon, and she did so with panache, bright red car, flowing scarf and all! I think of her rebellious nature and all the trouble this got her into, how her curiosity always trumped her sense of duty. And how, despite all this energy and potential, she had only one prospect for her future: marriage. She had no opportunity to pursue an education or a career, let alone a choice. Teta was known for her love and delicious cooking, her attention to social duties, and her generosity, but I knew there was always more than that. When it was just she and I in the sitting room, playing cards, there was a glint in her eye: the rebel behind the lady.
So let’s honor these women, the rebels and the dames alike, famous or anonymous, who have stood up, spoken up, and died to give us our freedom. What an honor it is to be part of a new generation that changes the script. For thousands of years - in most cultures - women have filled a role of only service and sacrifice. No longer are we limited to this. But as a transition generation, it is our job to carry the baton across the line. The last mile is on us! Let us take up their mantle with pride and make it our own. Let us show our girls what it means to be a woman. Let us live lives of our own design. Let us fulfill our calling and pursue our wildest dreams. And, most importantly, let us lift each other up in the process.
In observance of WHM, we will be sharing stories of remarkable women from all over the world, remembering and applauding them for their accomplishments. We invite you to read the articles and join the conversation.
Signing off, I would like to share a song I recently discovered by the Lebanese artist Dana Hourani. The title means “Strong” (in the feminine). Enjoy!
Second image: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images.