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Gender, Media & the Middle East in the Spotlight

The everyday lives and struggles of women in the Middle East – so often overshadowed by stories of war and upheaval – will feature at an event hosted by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The Gender, Media & Middle East symposium on Saturday, April 21 will include film screenings, keynote addresses and discussions on topics from social media empowerment to so-called ‘honour killings’. The symposium is the first of its kind, looking at women’s lives and feminism in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and the West Bank.

The programme features:

  • A paper on Saudi Arabian women journalists
  • Discussions of the use of social media by women in conflict zones
  • Media career paths for women in Iran
  • Fourth-wave feminism in the Middle East and North Africa
  • Women in television and cinema in Lebanon and Turkey

Screenings of the films Women in Sink and Women of Freedom bookend the event, with Q&A sessions with the respective directors.

The first film, directed by Iris Zaki of Royal Holloway, University of London, is set in a hair salon owned by a Christian Arab woman in Haifa, Israel, where women from different communities discuss politics, history and love.

The symposium closes with the latest film by Abeer Hadad, Women of Freedom, which follows the stories of women murdered in the name of ‘honour killings'. Ms Hadad, who has witnessed such tragedy in her life, embarks on a journey to collect stories of the victims, survivors and those who have carried out the killings.

The screening of Women of Freedom will be free and open to the public.

Dr Eylem Atakav, a senior lecturer in UEA’s School of Art, Media and American Studies, is coordinating the international symposium with Prof Yvonne Tasker and Zahra Khosroshahi of the School. In 2016, Dr Atakav’s film Growing Up Married, documented child marriage in Turkey.

Dr Atakav said: “We are very excited to bring to the University international scholars who will be speaking about topics that are marginalised.

“Our symposium will enable diverse voices to be heard, particularly around the politically charged and socially complicated issues of the relationship between the media, the Middle East and gender.

“We are thrilled to have internationally acclaimed films and filmmakers in the programme, as well as a range of talks about different kinds of media. Abeer Hadad, whose previous film Duma (Dolls, 2014) premiered at UEA, is coming back to screen her new film. Women of Freedom is a unique documentary. It is one of the rare films which captures real experiences of people who killed their loved ones in the name of ‘honour’.”

Ms Hadad said: “Honour killings affected my life and I wanted to embark on the journey of finding out about the people who committed these crimes.”

The symposium is hosted by UEA’s Feminist Media Studies research group and is funded by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. For more information, please email Dr Atakav on e.atakav@uea.ac.uk.

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