• Breaking News

    Thursday, September 28, 2017

    A Young Woman Rising

    By Nour Jarrouj

    Yesterday, I had an argument with a woman and she was saying that men are always going to be smarter, stronger and more successful than women no matter what! And unfortunately, there are billions who think the same.

    For me, it was a different battle because since I was a child, I believed in myself and I knew what capabilities I have, while my community was judging me for not playing my part in their traditional gender game. Why don’t I see myself like that? Why all I can see is my picture on a book cover, or in an article in an international newspaper, with a headline saying: The Woman Who Changed the World?

    My Syrian Traditional Community
    Our community is patriarchal and religious based. Women are underestimated and treated lower than men in everything: education, work opportunities, making decisions, even making their own choice in choosing their study major and their life partners. Traditions, stereotypes and gender roles are a big part of this.

    I was called names for dressing differently than most girls, a tomboy for playing street basketball with boys in our neighborhood since we didn’t even have women sport clubs in the city, a rebellious daughter for choosing to study economics major instead of engineering against my father’s will and going to study college in another city away from them. But why that boy in our neighborhood did all of that and he was considered mature and confident? Why not me?

    The Milestone
    Throughout college years, I started volunteering to follow my passion in helping others. I volunteered in youth projects, local NGOs for traumatized children and gender equality. I also started working part time so I can help my family cover my college expenses since we have lost everything due to conflict, and yes, I had rough days when I couldn’t go outside the house because of the dangerous security situation out there. Then, one day, I got a call from a friend who invited me to a peace building workshop in Beirut so I went and met a lot of young people who are different from me. Different religions, political views, backgrounds and mentalities. The workshop had gathered us all, to speak our minds, and come up with ideas to create an efficient civil community in Syria and to work on a strategic plan for conflict resolution.

    Since then, everything has changed for me, I have founded my own voluntary initiative for spreading peace using art -since it’s an international language that has no race or religion- which is called Art of Humanity and now includes more than 70 young volunteers in Damascus and Homs who are working together despite their differences to achieve one goal which is peaceful coexistence.
    After graduation, I applied for the United Nations and got the job, and I was one of the youngest staff in Syria to work in the biggest emergency response in UN history.

    And now I’m grateful for whom I am and life is a never-ending lesson. Believe me when I tell you, to follow your passion, work to reach your dream and don’t let anything come in your way. You are strong and powerful - appreciate yourself and NOTHING can bring you DOWN!

    About the Author 

    Nour Jarrouj, IYF Media Relations Officer

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