Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dear ABC News: This is Gaza. Dear World: We Need Social Media Activism to Debunk the Lies of Israel

It is a circle. People are happy about something ---> They post on Facebook---> Israel attacks Gaza---> People feel sad---> People post on Facebook---->Happy people and sad people fight on Facebook.

Most posts revolve around two messages:

1- How insensitive the Happy People are for being happy while Gaza is being bombed.
2- What a bunch of hypocrites those people sad for Gaza are. If they were really sad about what's happening in Gaza they would actually DO something, not just talk about it on Facebook.

All posts, however, have one common theme: Live and Let Live. Happy people ask Sad People to be sad on their own. Sad People ask Happy People to be happy on their own. Because, of course, each one of us is free to feel and live the way they want, but first, we have to object about how other people are living and ask them to let us be. Democracy and tolerance at their best.

I have always been an advocate for raising awareness about Palestine, because no one can deny the campaigns Zionists are launching to raise awareness about their side of the story, and with the media augmenting their voices, Palestinians are left to suffer alone, with almost zero world interference. Of course, raising awareness is not enough and it should never be a substitute to actions that can transform the deadly situation Palestinians live in, but when changing the situation is not in your hands, sharing and posting seems like the only thing to do, regardless of how much helpless, powerless and weak this makes you feel.

In the middle of all this Facebook opinions commotion, a post I saw today on Electronic Intifada proved to me just how significant sharing news on social media is, and it gave posting and sharing greater justification.

The post read:

"As usual, mainstream media outlets are straining to paint Israel as the victim, defending its people against irrational Palestinian rocket fire.
There is no equating the killing and maiming of dozens of innocent Palestinians with scared Israelis seeking shelter from crude rockets that rarely cause damage. But that hasn’t stopped media outlets from trying, and in some cases, outright lying, to distort the violence.
In one stark example, ABC News’ Diane Sawyer misidentifies scenes of the aftermath of Israeli missile strikes in Gaza as destruction caused by Palestinian rocket fire.
As Sawyer segues into the segment, she says, “We take you overseas now to the rockets raining down on Israel today as Israel tried to shoot them out of the sky.” Next to her is video footage not of Israelis or even Israel, but of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza."



I have realized media is stupid, long time ago. But people aren't and they shouldn't be! No Israeli woman is veiled like that wearing prayer clothes! No Israeli family has no shelter. Those are the Palestinians media don't want the world to see.

For everyone who has been complaining about the effectiveness of social media activism, implying messages that spreading awareness and expressing sadness about the situation is useless and is just a show, I hope you see how necessary it is amid this "Zionist show". They are lying and changing the facts using media, the least you can do is share the right facts and debunk the lies.
أضعف الإيمان من أهم الايمان


The full article in Electronic Intifada can be found here

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Grey's Anatomy, What Are You Trying to Tell us About Working Mothers?


Grey's Anatomy is one of those shows that lets you relate to characters, probably find your reflection in one of them and live the drama of life vicariously through theirs. If you are one of those people who felt Christina Yang was the doctor version of yourself, I think you might have felt like you were slapped on the face multiple times during the last season; left wondering if being Christina Yang is worth it after all.

The message, I felt, was clear. You are either Christina Yang, a world-renowned genius, overachiever, kick-ass, tough battler, heart surgeon who is unstoppable, forcefully respected and gets job offers based on her reputation despite her age and relatively young career... or you are everyone else: Successful enough, but not as glamorous nor as successful. Point of difference? Family and kids. Do you want them or not?

Remember the fight between Yang and Meredith? Christina said: "You can't be a great surgeon because you want to be a great mom." And here comes the trade-off between motherhood and success again. What a normal viewer heard must have been similar to: you can either have kids and be ordinary, or decide not to have them and be stellar. 

First of all, what working mother doesn't want to be great? Second of all, this statement just feeds the tired notion that women must be perfect at everything they do -- perfect wives, perfect mothers and perfect career women. Some might say, 'let women choose to accept imperfection because this is indeed the secret to happiness and a worry and guilt-free life.' To that I answer: How easily can this be done when statements like this are being thrown at women in an accusative manner?

After watching the last season of Grey's Anatomy, I felt uncomfortable. Although this is supposed to be a light show, melancholic sometimes, sure, this season left me feeling disappointed on behalf of all the successful women I know.

There were many stressful and pressuring messages; the ones I found myself pondering over included:
• Is family the price of excellence?
• Is excellence only defined by a job?
• Is a strong man like Owen or Burke the price of excellence?
• Is "good at work" all you can achieve if you were or want to be a mother as opposed to "great at work"?

I don't get it. Why does pressuring women -- about everything from appearances to social life and relationships to weight to family planning and career choices -- seem like the mission of everything nowadays? As if real life and real people don't do it often enough! Do TV shows have to pressure women even more while they are trying to unwind?

All those pressuring messages coming from everywhere about what women should and shouldn't do, this pressure is harmful to women, as they add to the obstacles and the psychological barriers women have to overcome to achieve their full potential. But those messages questioning the competency of working mothers and defining success by the narrow view of a job are a disaster. Those messages create an ecosystem -- a destructive one. In that ecosystem;
  • Women and society alike would only consider women successful if they have a job. A full-time job that consumes them entirely.
  • Women with potential who choose to have a full-time job would calculate their steps and future endeavors a million times before thinking of making something useful with that potential of theirs, because future success and family don't seem to match in that ecosystem.
  • Working mothers will continue to feel insecure about their achievements and keep playing them down because in that ecosystem, there's a trade-off between competency at work and competency at home. If she is good at work, she must be bad at home, and who wants that?
  • Employers would continue to see motherhood as a barrier to success and growth. The glass ceiling would never get cracked and we'd see more women leaving or being pressured to leave that ecosystem.
The problem with that ecosystem is that it pressures women to think and behave in a certain way. It's either family or work! Which one do you choose? It is not and it should never be a trade off. "Motherhood and Success" are not opposites just like a "Job and Success" are not synonyms. None of those are the "Black or White" of life.

Of course, life is all about choices, and this is just a show that is telling a story and women shouldn't feel obliged to copy the life decisions of the characters in the show. They should make the best out of the messages directed at them and filter out what contradicts with their own beliefs. Come on! Seriously?!

This quote by Warren Ellis best describes this situation: "If you believe that your thoughts originate inside your brain, do you also believe that television shows are made inside your television set?" In the presence of excellence who wants to be ordinary? Who can see what Yang has got and still want to be anything else! Don't confuse the already confused women about their life and career choices and expect them to behave in an objective manner. Stop the pressuring brainwash!

The most interesting part about the story is that it shows two best friends, equally smart, pretty and successful. Grey and Yang. They both have all it takes to conquer the world of medicine. At a certain phase in their lives, one chose to put family first and one chose to put work first. Neither one of them is entirely happy. So Yang is alone, Grey is on the "mommy track" and when she tries to prioritise her work, her relationship with her husband is what's at stake. What is this telling us?

I ask everyone working in media... Ease that tension and just let women be. Working or not, wanting families or not, just let them be. There is never a right or wrong rule to how one chooses to live life, as long as it is a choice. If we keep pressuring women to think that there is only ONE right path to success (a job) and along the way of that path families and kids should be marginalized, what kind of a choice are we giving women? In what way are we liberating them? Also, can we not neglect the effect this has on men? Who would want to marry a successful woman and build a family with her believing that kids and family would come last? This is very harmful in every way.

There are definitely problems and challenges that working mothers face. Why don't we try to find a solution? Why don't we empower women instead of intimidate them? Ease the pressure, mute the voices saying how things should and shouldn't be and how competent and incompetent working mothers are and let women just be. We can change the conversation and brainwash people into a new ecosystem;
• Brainwash women, and everyone for that matter, to realize that success is not only defined by a job, or a career.
• Brainwash women so they start believing they don't have to sacrifice on love and family for work.
• Brainwash us all into believing that excellence is not equivalent to being single and with no children
• Brainwash men so they accept that excellence can be found among working mothers too
• Brainwash us all into believing that working mothers are not average performers

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Product Placement Gets Ellen to Take Selfie -- Real Time Content Marketing Lets LG Joke Back


 Ellen's selfie stunt produced the most retweeted image of all time! Whether you like the fact that it was a staged product placement or not is not the point because it was brilliant. What I think is even more brilliant was LG's real time content marketing response suggesting a G2 would have enabled Ellen to take the selfie herself instead of handing the phone over to longer armed Bradely. So what are the things to learn from LG's response to Ellen's selfie?

1. Real time social communication is becoming more real than we think!
And yes, it has gone global, creating a platform for everyone to talk, joke and share. Something funny sparks in Hollywood, and an office in Jordan jokes back. The fun is no longer limited to a small group that any brand can predefine.

2. What happens in the Oscars does not stay in the Oscars.
The details of the story, no matter how trivial, can be exposed and magnified. Oscar Selfies are being recreated everywhere because people know a lot about how the original one was made.

3. You can no longer impose your product and expect it to just fly, you don't live in a vacuum!
If you put your product out there, be prepared for a real time product analysis and a competitive review -- which shouldn't be a problem. This is how life is -- people are talking and comparing anyway. Just know that now it is going to happen online where you can see and hear.

4. Real time content marketing, and any social media activity for that matter, is not waiting for you neither for your client to believe in its value.
While you are busy trying to calculate the pros and cons, and while your client is getting approvals, your competitor has stolen the moment and has risen to fame. Tough luck!

5. Jordan and the Middle East are in this social game!
While some clients or ad agencies think that this region still have a long way to go, cases like this suggest otherwise. We have what it takes in terms of creativity, social media understanding and technology; we only have to overcome resistance and fear, agencies and clients alike!

6. Be simple!
When the opportunity comes snatch it! Don't waste time complicating and perfecting. Don't invent a rocket just say something, spontaneous, real and human that would make people smile!

7. "The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible" -- David Ogilvy.
For ad agencies, listen to ideas and keep them coming from everyone at the agency! You never know which inspiration is going to hit the chord and create a success. Try to capture your internal jokes and real conversations about brands and products and how they relate to occasions and send them out there for people to see!

8. Don't be intimidated by what your competitors are doing.
Samsung sponsored the Oscars, gave Ellen a phone, and LG still managed to find an opportunity.

9. Don't stop thinking!
Although Real Time Expected Opportunities (we all knew the Oscars were happening and a lot of buzz is going to happen!), are a must capture for brands and agencies, you must not stop thinking even if you miss this opportunity. Real time content marketing has given more power to reactive thinking, there is always a new moment that people are sharing and talking about that a brand can connect with.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

10 Leadership and Business Lessons My Mother Taught me After She Left the Business World

My mother started off as a career-oriented woman. She worked in administration and logistics for 10 years before deciding to spend more time focusing on me and my three siblings, until she could go back to work after we all start going to school. Little did she know that those coming five years would witness one of the world's most dramatic business revolutions, when everything gets systematized and computerized.

 When it was time to go back, her job search was tough, the market was tough and giving women their right to work was not something anyone was bothered about. Her 10 years of experience with Royal Jordanian and Dar Al-Handasah, and the new Internet and PC training certificates she attached to her CV, were not enough to favor her experience over the fact she is married with four children.
Well, the world is full of ignorant, backward thinking idiots! My mother knew. So she just moved on, past and beyond them, kicking the corporate world in the teeth because in some way she kept learning, growing and getting wiser, with her intellectuality and drive never withering. Her journey became full of unconventional, hit (and miss) and score, and rich life lessons that were indispensable to me, and although were not generated from her 9-5 job, were always easily transferred to mine.

1. Let no one dare define the boundaries of your ambition: My mother is ambitious, smart and curious. A few of my supervisors told me that I was too ambitious for my own good, and that my burning passion could end up burning me. When I used to tell my mother this, she used to shrug her shoulders, and I always knew that this piece of information never made sense to her. She raised an ambitious girl.

2. If your life is not exactly how you want it to be, change it, and in order to change it, you have to first dream it. My mother is a maestro in Creative Scenario Planning! My mother is a dreamer; she loves to imagine happy moments, happy situations, and happy family occasions. She dreams and imagines with all the colors and the emotions. The beautiful thing is that not only she imagines but she also creates, and I know that what she creates is only a slice of her vivid imagination. Growing up, my mother used to share her dreams with me, so I learned that I had to dream and have big plans for myself, just like my mother.

3. Confidence is the way to go, withdrawal is NEVER EVER the way to go! She praised confident and forthcoming people in front of me, so I learned that boldness and confidence are traits that I must have, she also confessed to me her shortcomings and disappointments so I learnt from her lessons and moved on past them with a wealth of experiences that felt like they were mine.

4. This, too, always shall pass. She found joy and happiness in every possible occasion, so even when I felt that maybe she was a little bit overly joyous, she taught me that I must have fun!

5. Be curious and keep learning; better put -- go crazy about chasing knowledge. My mother made sure I understood the richness of a curious life. My mom lives a life of constant search, constant learning, constant trying, and constant growth. She is restless. She wants to do everything and learn from anything. I think she never left a stone unturned, until today, she keeps searching for that thing she loves to do, that thing she was born to do. Along the way, I witnessed the birth and death of many obsessions and hobbies, so as a result, I tested desserts and foods that never made sense but tasted yummy when she was experimenting for her Mama's Kitchen business. I saw our house turn into a ceramic art gallery when she believed she was an eager hidden artist. I lived through the phase when every single piece of cloth that she could draw on was used as a canvas for her drawing skills, my t-shirts and jeans included. She became an athlete that I had to work hard to keep up with, then a writer/reader/poet. I saw her become a philanthropist for the hungry and senior citizens, a volunteer who wants to revive and preserve the Palestinian identity, and of course an event planner.

6. People skills! My mother is a diplomat, she is that one person everyone loves despite their disputes. If two people are in total conflict, she would be the only common thing between them.

7. How to become a secrets magnet! I don't think she taught me that, I guess this is just hereditary super power! She is the secret keeper. She knows a whole lot about my friends, her friends, my siblings' friends. Sometimes people pour their heart to her not knowing why!

8. "Yes" and "No" are only up to you to decide. Fight, object and stand out. She is a fighter, and taught me how to fight. She was with me and loaded me with firing passion when I came back home saying I admitted myself to a test for the Jubliee school for gifted students, she had absolutely no idea what I was talking about, but she drove me there the next day and waited for me till I was done with the 4-5 hour tests. She fought with my teachers, who didn't believe I had what it takes, proved them all wrong and rubbed it in their faces pretty well when I got accepted. She showed me how to close my ears to the bullshit surrounding me, she showed me early on how to believe in something and fight for it, and never assume that anyone knows me better than myself, so I should never let anyone creep into my head and make me doubt my abilities. As I grew up I had to go back to reminding myself of this often. I think she might be the only person who does know me better than myself, so she is my reality check and my self-awareness consultant.

9. Choose your battles. She taught me to be mature and to never assume; it is an equivalent to weakness. She chose her battles; she never fought with those unworthy of her time or mental efforts.

10. People around you are lives full of stories, put yourself in their shoes and find your voice of intuition. She taught me to feel, to express my feelings and to appreciate people and whatever they do for me. She taught me to see and to understand when people go out of their way for me in a way or another. She taught me to look deep into people's lives and to understand their journeys. She taught me to be humble, compassionate, and appreciative.

Moral of this story, open your mind and eyes to appreciate the lessons around you that you might be missing. I don't claim to have mastered all of those lessons mentioned above, but I try.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

An Iraqi Refugee - Living Simply, Strongly and Generously in the Face of Alexa and Fireworks!

Her name is Um Mohammad, I don't know what her real name is, at the first glance in front of her house which is basically a tent in Amman, you'd think she is in her sixties, after a few words from her, which are usually strong and confident attempting to wipe away the tears that start falling down her cheeks, you'd realize she is probably a decade younger. 

Um Mohammad is an Iraqi refugee, she came to Jordan with her family that consisted of three daughters and two sons. Her husband passed away, and was followed by a daughter, a son and a son in law, leaving her with three orphaned grandchildren to take care of.

The house (tent) of the family
Um Mohammad doesn't work and hasn't finished her education - a case in point that life is not sexist so we should equip both genders to face it - she is a very simple human being. When I come to think about how she lives, it strikes me that this family literally lives one day at a time, they don't deal with money, they live off what good people provide them with from food, clothes and medicine. The idea of living in a house is too hard to be attained, this is her wildest dream, so she focuses on what she can do, to feed her family every day, to survive the winter's cold and summer's heat, hoping that life doesn't give her more challenges to deal with. But, it does. two weeks ago, her brother passed away in Iraq and a few months ago her daughter got divorced, her daughter has just given birth to a new baby, which means a new struggle to secure survival for this little one.

She lives between Amman and Jordan Valley because the valley is warmer in winter, but this year she decided to stay in Amman because there aren't enough food donors there.

Whenever you visit her, she mentions her Palestinian neighbours, also in tents, and thanks God life is kinder to her. "Can I give some to my neighbour?" she asks whenever you offer her anything. Leaving you wondering; is your good deed is as good as hers? Can you ever be that detached from "things" as Um Mohammad is? Can you ever be that selfless? Can you ever have such strong faith to give away what you need knowing that God will take care of you if you take care of his people? Only if we could learn from Um Mohammad!
If we all give as much as she does, pro rate to how much we have, I doubt we'd have any sort of problems, ever. I also doubt we'd have broken the world's record for the largest fireworks show on New Year's eve, or maybe we would have without feeling guilty or like hypocrites.

Um Mohammad says she used to receive 180 JDs a month from the UNHCR. "Once the Syrians came to Jordan we stopped receiving money, I know of another 60 Iraqi families who stopped receiving money as well". 


The situation of Iraqi refugees in Jordan has deteriorated after the Syrian refugees started fleeing to Jordan. "What we're really concerned about now is that it seems the number of Iraqis is increasing," said Dominique Hyde, representative of UNICEF in Jordan. "Our focus obviously has been on Syrians."  

The number of Iraqis in Jordan assisted by the UNHCR remains stable at around 29,000 of the 450,000 Iraqi refugees living in the Kingdom. This number is evened out by the new arrivals and resettlement departures as Iraqi refugees keep coming to Jordan. 200-250 Iraqis have continued fleeing to Jordan every month during the past couple of years, and last year's new arrivals averaged 400 a month. Despite those figures UNHCR operation in Jordan focusing on Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers has been consolidated over the past few years in view of budgetary constraints.
 
Many of the refugees from Iraq are hidden within the poorest areas of Amman, the majority without community support or the right to work are becoming increasingly vulnerable, requiring assistance and protection.  


"There are around 30,000 vulnerable Iraqi individuals in Jordan. They are not going to go away any time soon, and they need help. Who is going to provide them with help? Kevin Fitzcharles, CARE's country director in Jordan. "While they may have had coping mechanisms when they first arrived, that's run out." said Andrew Harper, UNHCR's representative in Jordan. 

It seems that the world keeps failing at finding sustainable solutions for refugees, of all nationalities, and problems don't seem to be ending, instead they keep accumulating one crisis after another. what is going to happen to all those people?  

Alexa came and unlike many of us who were at home, complaining about the TV, dealing with the electricity cuts and the blocked roads, Um Mohammad was doing fine in her tent, "we were okay, we managed to keep warm, we had wood but it got wet, so we had to go to the gas station to get some gas and start fire, but we had food, and we had clothes". 
Alexia manifested the discrepancy and the irony we live in, what we care for, our "first-world" problems and Um Mohammad's "not too bad, manageable" problems. While listening, she was the one comforting me as I couldn't control my facial expressions reflecting my sorrow, sadness and silliness.

Living with Um Mohammad, there are 5 children, none is going to school. 4 are girls, one of them is Mongolian.

What will happen to this family? Food is not the problem anymore, what kind of a life is this? What kind of a generation do we expect to rise without proper education and without a healthy life?

Injustice is not something we should get used to seeing. We shouldn't accept that some people get to live in tents and that some children don't get to go to school.

Solution? The international community should shelter those families. The money owners in Iraq should shelter those families. The rich Arab countries should shelter those families. Jordan has done what it can, spreading itself thin to help. The rest of the world has not gone broke, the world has money that is being spent on fireworks and entertainment, which would only be legitimate when the fireworks we love seeing are not the only roof some families have over their heads.

Meanwhile, and until the world moves, find a poor neighbour, visit, talk and help them. Think of a sustainable help, maybe teach them, help them figure out what they can do, but most importantly, let them teach you how to live simply, strongly and generously.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why aren't you married yet? Tell me why!

Is it your career? are you too picky? are you secretly in love? do you have issues? Are you sad?

I can write a book about those awkward moments when people - sometimes strangers - start this type of conversation. Once you hit 30, if you are not married, the reflection of your life in some people's eyes start looking similar to the Hunger Games where marriage is survival, and of course helping you becomes everyone's destined mission. The awkwardness starts when those who ask refuse to settle for a casual and simple answer to such a complicated question that would need deep self reflection and introspection that I can't just do off guarded, not to mention I wouldn't usually do out loud, in the presence of a stranger! 

I took a stab here at what goes in the mind of an unmarried girl... Of course, guys, feel free to relate!

Waiting for that someone we can live with and can't live without. Cheesy but true! While some people meet this person early on in life thus are spared the social nag, not everyone has the same life path, and this is where problems start. Some girls prefer to be with no one than be with the wrong one regardless of how old they are, but as we grow older and without a partner, it starts to seem that we are falling away from that unified, one-size-fits-all master plan and that we are wasting our lives. The negative correlation between age and choosiness becomes the only advise and rule that you need to live by, many give in to the pressure while many simply don't.

Some people think of marriage as the future insurance policy that frees you from doubt and regret and is fate proof. I beg to differ!

Marriage does not extinguish regret and it doesn't transform a man you don't really love to "The One". Marriage is not a spell that kills demons of regret and doubt, choosing someone for the sake of getting married now and falling out of "love" in a few years merits regret just like wasting opportunities of men could. Unless you have something great that you are completely, entirely and wholeheartedly convinced of, mentally and emotionally, guilt and doubt would start creeping up and marriage will not make it to that growing-old-together phase. So if regret is inevitable in the logic of some, at least let people choose what to regret. 

Some people are not married yet because they value marriage a lot. Remember the quote in the movie 27 Dresses "I think you want a wedding, not a marriage a wedding."? well, yeah this is exactly what some people delaying marriage do not want, they don't want the idea of getting married they want a strong and healthy marriage. People generalize that those who aren't married are the ones who don't appreciate settling down and being committed. It could be that those people understand the concept very well that they want to make sure they choose right.  Anyone can get married, nobody is single because of scarcity of the opposite sex, that is not the point, the point is how you want your life to be like with this marriage. Those who take their time are aware that life is not only about the wedding, the honeymoon and the first couple of years, and they are realistic enough to understand that love doesn't come after you get married - well at least not the kind of love they want. They understand that things will get real and that " for better and worse" is literal and should last a lifetime.

We teach our girls to be dependent because of an entrenched social belief that women can't or shouldn't do it all alone. Well, some girls were taught differently! When the nagging subject is a man, he is being pressured because society wants him to procreate, while with women society wants them to be safe. We socially accept the fact that men have every right to choose when to get married; when he is ready and when he has accomplished and seen enough.Women, however, are forced to start racing towards the golden cage, not trained to listen to their needs or wants or to even choose the pace of their own life, believing they have to secure themselves. Instead of believing in the potential of our girls, encouraging them to work, find a career they love, find a purpose in life, find their strengths and use them for the greater benefit, we make them believe that the journey to knowledge is over with a BA and that the next mission is to get married. If a guy comes along, a girl should consider him regardless of what her plans are. Of course if we keep doing this to our girls, they will most definitely be incapable of doing it alone. 

Getting married is a choice, and any choice is a trade off.
Inspired from Sheryl Sandberg's final chapter in Lean In, and following professor Joan Williams’s theory of Gender Wars, we all have our confusions. Maybe we aren't all entirely comfortable with all our decisions, and I doubt any of us is 100% confident in everything we are doing. As a result we unconsciously hold that discomfort against those who remind us of the path not taken. Guilt and insecurity make us second-guess ourselves and in turn judge one another and our decisions, and this is harmful. 
It seems to me that society pushes the idea of getting married to an extent where our judgment gets clouded sometimes and we start downplaying the negative opportunity cost, what you choose to let go of or put up with, and we end up fixated on getting married no matter what.


Is this all? Certainly not! Would it satisfy the asker? Probably not. Would it give them a headache? Definitely, and if you are lucky, they will secretly realize that maybe this is why you are not married yet, and leave you in peace once and for all.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Put Yourself in Her Shoes - Jordanian Outlook



"Every day she faces humiliation, anger, she lives in fear and she experiences violence… put yourself in her shoes, instead of finding ways to blame her."  

The new video by UN Women is simply narrated, truthfully told and beautifully filmed. Would it really make those who fire judgements at women stop for a moment and connect with that deep conscience and sound of reason within them to reach the realization that women are not to be blamed for men's assaults and sexual harassment? I surely hope so. At the very least the video will get people thinking that maybe there is another perspective to things, and supposedly with many similar movements like UK's Everyday Sexism and US's Hollaback talking about the issue now, the message will get stronger and the debate will get hotter. 

In Thomson Reuters Foundation's poll, Jordan was ranked 4th for women's rights in the Arab world. I know and can see we are in a better position than other countries and how Jordan is working towards securing more rights for women. However, some women in Jordan are more privileged than others when it comes to those rights, and there are still some problems; cultural, social and systematic that need to be addressed and solved. One of the social problems that I think is becoming more sickening by the day is the harassment on the street, no matter how "non harmful" it is, because ironically "harm" has become a subjective word that some people use to indicate physical harm while ignoring emotional harm.

To me, not being able to take a taxi to work or anywhere I want to go because I can hardly find a taxi whose driver wouldn't scan me up and down while turning the roundabout three times, is harmful. I'm fortunate I could afford a car so I don't need to deal with this situation often, but what about the frustration other girls feel? the concept of having to trade off emotional comfort for a ride doesn't seem too normal to me. Let's forget about the ride and let's examine the option of walking. I live a 7 minute walk away from City Mall, a couple of years ago when my sister used to drive me to work, my joy was to leave the house earlier than her to walk to the mall get a coffee and then my sister would pick me up and drop me off to work. This joyful phase lasted for 5 days. The 7 minute morning walk which was supposed to be refreshing, energizing and happy turned to 7 minutes of cursing (in my head), annoyance, noise (because everyone horns and invites you to their car!) and frustration. You can imagine how much worse the situation would be in other areas of Amman and Jordan.

I did not find statistics for the number of women who get sexually harassed in Jordan, unfortunately. In the report published by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, the various forms of sexual harassment were listed and it is very important that everyone understands, males and females alike, that harassment is not limited to touching or physical assault. If you have ever been stared at, given an inappropriate comment that left you feeling uncomfortable, been whistled for and screamed at, been given sexual remarks, or been followed unwillingly, then you have been harassed! There are of course other actions that are more disgusting and more aberrant that we hear of and might have experienced first hand. Any unwelcome behaviour that makes you feel humiliated, offended and uncomfortable is harassment, if this behaviour is of a sexual nature then it is sexual harassment. The study shows that 99.3% of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment. What would the percentage in Jordan be in your opinion? 

At the office, we have an initiative that is called "Thinking Inside the Box". Every week, all employees are invited to think of ideas, solutions to existing problems, solutions to hypothetical problems...ideas for anything and everything. About a year ago, I had an idea. I wanted to splash paint every harasser on the street with the color red. My rationale was; those harassers go back home to families, they have mothers, fathers and sisters but those families wouldn't know what that son was doing on the street, what happens on the street stays on the street, no shame, no embarrassment and no behaviour to be questioned because family and (some) friends wouldn't know. It is like this harasser has two lives and two self images, one for the street and one for home that is conservative and cultured. I understand that this two lives scenario might not always be the case, and not everyone goes back to a family that condemns such behaviour, but it is often the case considering we are people of culture and values. So my campaign wanted to expose harassers, make them noticed and known to family and friends, make it hard for them to say or do something and just get away with it unnoticed, unpunished and proud. Unfortunately this idea didn't see the light because me and a group of friends thought it might get dangerous and people might become violent. But I still believe exposing harassers is the right strategy to make them think twice before thinking of doing anything stupid on the street.


Now, for the message to get stronger and the debate to get hotter in Jordan, we need to talk about harassment and assault on the street, nothing is ever going to be solved if we watch videos and only like them, the objective of spreading such videos is to start movements, to move people to do something. Talking, arguing, writing and brainstorming solutions to stop sexual harassment and spread a culture where men take responsibility for their sexual and physical assaults towards women are just examples of what we should do. Painting harassers so they become known is needed I say, but sadly splash-painting them red could be viewed as an assault itself. As I mentioned, exposing harassers to create some sort of pressure that prevents them from annoying girls on the street, and forcing them to be responsible for those actions and be held accountable in front of family and friends would be very effective. Watch the UN video again, maybe it will inspire you to help me find logical "red paint" or anything for that matter that would do the job!