VWR Participant Profile: Farah Abdel Sater

Farah Abdel Sater

Farah Abdel Sater, now 24, became involved in civil society at the age of 16 when she started teaching French to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Since then she has volunteered for a number of NGOs and projects advocating for social change in Lebanon. In 2009, she founded the United Nations Youth Association of Lebanon (UNYA Leb) in Beirut where she is the president today.

In addition to her role there, Farah is engaged in many other activities such as blogging and journalism. Recently, she has been covering news on the protests in Cairo for Common Ground News. Farah applied to attend the Visualising Women's Rights in the Arab World (VWR) workshop because, although she has never focussed solely on women's rights, it is something she cares about deeply especially with regard to Arab women's involvement in the cultural and political sphere and the representation of women in the media. She finds it frustrating that although there are women occupying important positions as thought-leaders and change-makers in Lebanon, they are still portrayed as objects in the media, and their physical appearance is focussed on more than their achievements.

Last year, she headed a campaign called She Blogs Lebanon, an online campaign designed to rally young local female bloggers and journalists in paralel to UNDP's campaign around the right to nationality and full citizenship for women in Lebanon. Although the Lebanese constitution stipulates equality between the sexes, this is not upheld in many legal and cultural practices, says Farah. In the case of this campaign, women cannot pass their nationality onto their children or husband but a man can pass it on after a year of being married to a foreign women. She Blogs Lebanon ran for 3 months and included a Facebook profile awareness raising exercise as well as the blog.

Farah applied to attend our workshop in Jordan with a solid campaign idea around the feminisation of the Arabic language. She says, “We have a very big problem in Arabic, it's very stiff, it's not evolving and I really want to see change.” While there are masculine and feminine forms of most employment titles, words such as “president” "depute" and “doctor” do not have a feminine version (normally created by adding the Arabic letter “T marbouta”) in the classical Arabic language used by the media and administrative authorities. Farah was inspired to create a campaign around this issue after an incident in a certain public office where she was looking for the president administrative person and couldn't find her because she thought she was looking for a man. "French and German languages have gone through changes, we should do the same, starting with the media” says Farah. 

In December, after the workshop, Farah has contacted Ms.Farah Salka, the head of Nasawiya, the Lebanon-based feminist collective, to partner on this campaign with her. She wants this campaign to be visual, possibly including animation. She has plans to use what she learnt at the VWR in multiple ways. She says “What I learnt was really life-changing. Now I know how I need visualisation, how much I can help the graphic designer in my organisation fine tune his ideas, “ which she says she is already doing through UNYA's development of an interactive, visual website showing data related to youth and civil education in Lebanon. She is also organising a training course in September for 40 to 50 youth from Europe and the Arab world on online ctivism and visualisation, for which she will be using Tactical Tech's toolkits as well as the skills she gained at VWR. 

Follow Farah on Twitter or read her blog, Farah Has A Lot to Say.

Image: Supplied by Farah Abdel Sater.