Arts & Culture

What to read on Sekka ahead of International Women’s Day

We share 10 articles and creative works penned by Arab women.

By Sekka Team

In celebration of the upcoming international women’s day, we share 10 articles and creative works that were penned by female writers from the Arab world, who make over 80 per cent of Sekka’s contributing writers,  and that were published on Sekka from 2017 to 2021. The pieces, listed in no particular order, tackle issues of particular relevance and significance to women.

1.  “Don’t hide the blood: Why we should talk more about menstruation”

Illustration by Hala Al Abbasi.

“Hiding my period experience always felt wrong to me, and if we want to be respected as the women we are, we shouldn’t be hiding big aspects of our womanhood” states Bahraini writer and artist Marwa T. Faqihi in this opinion article published in January 2019.

2. “In focus: The culture of hiding faces in the Gulf”

Art by Rawan Al Mahrouqi.

“One of the trends that sets women apart in the Arab World, and in the Khaleej in particular, is that some avoid completely showing up on camera, or having their photos published in public and media outlets, and others continue to engage with the public through just voice overs or innovative photos that just focus on their hands, feet, or that are taken from the back so that their identity is protected” writes author and journalist Rym Tina Ghazal in her feature article published in January 2019, in which she interviews Omani artist Rawan Al Mahrouqi and Omani vlogger Ashwaq Al Maskery about their experiences of hiding their faces online. 

3. “Let’s talk about feminism in the Gulf”

Illustration: Shutterstock.

“I urge women to learn from the feminist movement in the Western World, and to create our own regional version of it rather than import it as is,” advocates Kuwait journalist and artist Dana Al Rashid in this opinion article written in 2019 to mark International Women’s Day.

4. “What do you know about the women of Arabia?”

Image: Library of Congress.

“Unfortunately, there seems to be a general idea about the women of the Peninsula, and that is that their participation in society beyond childbearing was nonexistent. That they had no autonomy, no respect, nor did they even seem to be present in our history. And this simply is just not true” writes Ghada Almuhanna Abalkhail in this arts and culture piece published last year.

5.  “Why we need more women in the media”

Illustration by Shaima Al Alawi.

“Having more women in the media means that we have a more complete, and authentic portrayal of reality” remarks  Manar Alhinai, the co-founder and storyteller-in-chief of Sekka, in her opinion article published in September 2020.

6.  “Non-fiction: Our out of this continent love story

Illustration by Zahra Marwan.

“My family members still make remarks that I missed my chance of integrating and living a comfortable Kuwaiti life. During a casual afternoon drive with just the two of us, and many other prying and uncomfortable questions, my uncle asked me, “Why did you a marry a Frenchman?” writes Zahra Marwan, who relayed her personal experiences of intercultural marriage in this short story published in the summer of 2019.

7.Manal Ataya on our responsibility to change the narrative”

Illustration by Shaima Al Alawi.

“It was that encounter, and many that followed throughout my life, that came to the surface connecting like dots to Said’s theories when I read Said’s seminal book, Orientalism. I felt that I understood much of his analysis as I had experienced both the blatant and subtle nuances of ‘otherness’ as an identifiable Arab Muslim woman” states Manal Ataya, the director general of the Sharjah Museums Authority, in this opinion article published on the 17th  anniversary of Edward Said’s death.

8. Poem: 23 Days

Illustration: Shutterstock.

“you didn’t realize,

but you were heavy,

you’re the man I once idealized,

but if you were, how could I have forgotten you already?

I must thank you again,

because I feel great,

you should be proud, too,

for I am the strong woman you helped create”

writes Egyptian poet and writer Laila Moustafa in this empowering poem published in January 2021.

9. “Finding my way back to a lost self”

Illustration by Umayma Alhinai.

Do not get me wrong; marriage can be a beautiful thing, but everything beautiful has to start with you. You are important: your well-being, your self-esteem, your mind and your body. The events I went through taught me that for me to be stable and happy, I have to take care of myself mentally, spiritually and physically. I have to be comfortable with myself so that I can give selflessly and never want anything in returnsays rising Emirati writer Mariam Al Qubaisi in this honest opinion article, published in November 2017.

10. Why you need to embrace your curly hair

Illustration by Aya Mobaydeen.

“I wanted to delve deeper into the issue of resistance towards natural hair, and why many women in our region submissively, or unconsciously, adhere to a set of arbitrary and uniform standards decreed by society. I took courage from a growing online movement around the world in support of natural curls and created my curl Instagram account @curl.heritage in 2017. I have confronted this issue through my platform, and it has sparked a very interesting discussion on cultural identity” writes Maha Al Kharusi, the Omani founder of Curl Heritage, in this opinion article published in 2019.

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The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.