by Rana Asfour
I sit huddled in my corner home office typing away with a blanket round my shoulders, beside me a mug of a yucky tasting hot concoction brewed from a sachet with a label promising to clear up a bunged up nose, and I am possibly in the grip of a mild, yet climbing temperature. In short, I am feeling very sorry for myself.
Today is International Women’s Day. On a good and healthy day I would be listing all the times that Arab women of my generation broke down barriers, leapt over hurdles and smashed their way through obstacles claiming their rightful place beside men. However, today, as I mentioned, I am grumpy and I am feverish and I am not in a celebratory mood.
On a happy note though, I have just returned from spending three fantastic days at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai. I attended more that 15 sessions and listened to more than 25 speakers, (17 of whom were women) celebrating the written word. However, as literature and the celebration of civilisations were taking place in Dubai’s Festival City, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) henchmen were razing down the remnants of two of the world’s civilisations. Whereby the theme of Dubai’s festival was ‘Wonderland’, ISIL was reshaping Mosul in Iraq, into a no-man’s land. It's hard to think of any hope following the heartbreaking images. A sad day for the world.
However, today, regardless of my somber apprehensive mood, is a day for celebrating women and over the past days it has been a pleasure, and privilege, being in the presence of charming, intelligent, creative, and inspiring women who genuinely love what they do and are proud of what they have achieved; Badriah Al-Bishr, Mai al Nakib, Fadwa Al Qasem, Inaam Kachachi, Shaikha Al Muhairi, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Adele Parks, Sophie Hannah, Joanna Trollope, Anita Anand, Liz Fenwick, Noura Al Noman, Kathy Shalhoub, Deborah Rodriguez, Lauren Oliver, Julie Lewis, Adila Nasser and many more.
As I moped about the house yesterday, all floppy, phlegmy and delirious, I noticed that my Mr. Fabulous was looking rather pleased with himself. He had completely taken over (been allowed I tell myself) the run of things since my illness. I am in no position to argue regarding my sorry state. Besides, he was off in a few hours to yet more exciting adventures. Until that time, I was happy for him to do it all. I’ve actually enjoyed this ‘being taken care of business’ and am thinking of making a habit out of it. He does make a wicked Thai soup. Ah, even feminists need a hero!
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