As we reflect upon another year gone by, we do so upon a tide of turmoil, hope and revolution sweeping across the Arab Middle East. In recent months, women have taken to the streets demanding change beyond the overthrow of despotic regimes. Yet from Tunisia to Bahrain, from Tahrir to Twitter, the voices of Arab women struggle to resound amidst the enthusiastic din of popular politic.
Though we cannot foretell what may yet come of this occasion, as Arab women, we are oft reminded of an enduring marginalization. Not a single woman was to be found on the committee tasked with drafting the new constitution of Egypt. A conspicuous lack of women in that body and within the interim government of the country belie any belief that with revolution will come the automatic and earnest uprooting of entrenched gender hierarchies.
For women to enjoy the fruits of revolution, they must mobilize to secure their rights before, during and after the transition itself. Gender parity is not given; at every stage, it must be asserted. It is from this perspective, standing in solidarity with women struggling for equality throughout the world, that the women of Kayan and the burgeoning Arab feminist movement in Israel have striven in 2010 for a social and political transformation of our own.
The name Kayan comes from the Arabic word for “being.” It reflects our guiding belief that social change can be achieved when women
are empowered as decisions makers both within their personal lives and throughout society as a whole. Genuine transformation is not just about conditions and structures, but also about internal processes of consciousness, language and creativity that equip women with their own agency.