The fourth event of Asfari Institute’s Feminist Roundtable Series titled “‘Glocal’ Voices: Discussing Feminist Blogging as Political Practice” successfully took place on November 30, 2021, in collaboration with the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies in Cyprus.
This reflective/reflexive dialogue deals with feminist blogging as a space from which to ask critical questions about political struggles and feminism. Blogs are harder to control than broadcast and print media. As a result, in politically sensitive areas, authoritarian regimes seek to suppress blogs and/or harass and punish those who maintain them.
As we have reached the ten-year anniversary of the so-called Arab Spring’, we reflect on the tremendous socio-political role of women activists blogging during waves of protests, as well as the social, economic, and political crises that followed in the years after the 2011 Arab uprisings and the revolutions.
In this webinar, the guest speakers discussed the critical role feminist activists’ blogging plays as a tool for political action and mobilization of people during protest and post-protest discourses in the MENA region. The speakers also shed light on the various forms of threats and punishments that feminists who maintain such blogs are subjected to from oppressive and patriarchal systems of political power.
This roundtable discussion revealed how feminist blogging serves as a fundamental strategy for retaining the memories and voices of phenomenal feminist activists, many of whom are no longer with us today. Christina Kaili mentioned the story of Lina Ben Mhenni, a Tunisian blogger who courageously used her platform to expose the police brutality used against herself and other protesters during the demonstrations held against dictator Ben Ali’s regime by sharing pictures and videos of the corpses of young women who were being tortured and killed by the security forces.
By the same token, the speakers also discussed how feminist blogs function as a form of historical archives, providing critical analysis of both individual and collective feminist movements which can help rising bloggers relate to and learn from, for protests are still very evident in present-day society.
The guest speakers also talked about how feminist blogs create safe spaces for women to share their personal narratives, including the violence and oppression they are subjected to in their private domains. The politicizing of such personal narratives has moved women’s experiences from the private to the public sphere, thereby giving rise to novel movements of change and reproducing a certain kind of feminism.
Finally, Kaili and Daibes explained how feminist blogs have led to the formation of communities of solidarity, most notably among women that have undergone different forms of violence, be it sexual or structural, by various state and non-state actors. Such solidarity networks continue to challenge the patriarchal norms imposed on them through political institutions as well as carry out various consciousness-raising campaigns.
Meet the speakers and moderators
- Paola Salwan Daher is a Senior Global Advocacy Advisor at the Center for Reproductive Rights in Geneva and a Board Member of Urgent Action Funds.
- Christina Kaili is a Researcher at the Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies in Nicosia. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Cyprus and a Master’s in Human Rights from the University College London. Her undergraduate degrees are in Sociology with a minor in Political Science from the University of Cyprus. Her research interests include political sociology, feminist theory, human rights, social justice, discourse analysis, and new/social media. She has 15 years of experience as a civil society professional and activist promoting gender equality and women’s rights in Cyprus, across the Eastern Med, and Europe. Christina’s writing in this field has also been expansive: she has authored or contributed to a number of publications, including research reports, e-learning modules, and journal articles.
- Farah Daibes is a feminist activist, occasional blogger, and Programme Manager at Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung’s regional Political Feminism program in the Middle East and North Africa.
Watch the full recording here: