In August, the Euro-Mediterranean Academic and Scientific Network on Gender and Women (RUSEMEG) organized the symposium "Stories and Woes of Women in the Euro-Mediterranean Region: Accounts, Bodies, Violence, Money" in the presence of several eminent female researchers and professors. The event was held at the Paris-Nanterre University as part of the International Congress on Feminist Research in the Francophonie (CIRFF).
Sessions 1 and 2 of the conference were held on August 28th and were dedicated to the theme "Gender, Stories and Bodies: Crossing Views". The debate focused on women and their bodies in different literary narratives. The exchanges questioned the choice of female characters and their paths. Do they match contemporary reality or do they relate to a fixed vision?
Zohra Mezgueldi, a professor at Hassan II University in Casablanca, made an intervention under the title "Masculine / feminine between displacement and reversal of signs: a reassessment of discourses on gender identity in the French-speaking Moroccan narrative". She questioned the French-speaking Moroccan novel about the society it reproduces, that is, its representations, highlighting several important time periods. Ms. Mezgueldi concluded by emphasizing that this literature reflects changes and developments, tensions and contradictions, issues and challenges of society.
Mònica Rius-Piniés, from the University of Barcelona, spoke on "The Language of Lost Bodies: The Search for an Anatomical Space in Miral Al-Tahawy’s Story". Ms. Rius-Piniés gave some biographical and bibliographical information on this novelist of Bedouin origin, whom she presented as a feminist. This novelist tells stories inspired by her experience, depicting women who face hostile situations, but does not use a protestist discourse while doing so. Carmen Boustani, from the Lebanese University of Beirut, spoke about "Andrée Chedid (Cairo 1920-Paris 2011), feminist and rebel". Ms. Boustani introduced the writer by talking about her first novel, Le Sommeil délivré (1952), where she explores the deep Egypt and denounces the dominant machismo mentality. The author develops and crosses the themes of revolt, death and obsessions.
These two sessions allowed the various participants to reflect on and question the roles assigned to men and women in the various stories discussed. Relevant questions were raised about creative writing. Should it be totally free? Or should it care about the challenges of current events and represent them? What is the role of literary criticism?
Session 3 of the Symposium was held on August 29 at 9:00 am and dealt with the topic "Women and Violence".
This session was moderated by two people and consisted of two presentations by two historians who showed, with supporting documents and references that the issue of gender violence was to be historicized.
Karine Lambert’s presentation served to reveal that violence by women could reflect resistance to the prevailing order as well as the suffering of women that is not always heard.
Rim Yacoubi’s presentation gave women detainees the voice to reveal what is going on in these places of confinement, where religion and social order combine to punish those who have "sinned".
In line with feminist theories, one of the most important aspects of this session was to deconstruct the usual image of male / female relationships in the issue of sexual violence. In fact, women are no longer thought of as naturally and systematically victims and men as executioners. Violence perpetrated by women onto others (men, women, and children) is today a legitimate object of research.
Session 4 was held on August 29th at 10:40 am and addressed "Women’s Money". The workshop focused on analyzing the economy in terms of gender relations.
Fatma Oussedik highlighted the significant gap that exists in Algeria between statistics on women’s access to the education system and their access to formal employment.
For Fatma Boufenik, whose research focuses on situations of social, economic and financial vulnerability of women caught in patterns of domination of the patriarchal system in Algeria (women victims of gender violence, migrant women and prostituted women), women’s money is both an opportunity for economic empowerment but also a threat to their independence when they are caught in patterns of domination.
The intervention of Nouri Rupert focused on the effects of the accumulation of financial capital on the marital couple, by French women of Moroccan origin, between France and Morocco, and in particular on the economic position of women within the couple, at least equivalent to that of their husbands or often superior.
The comparison of research carried out between all these cases shows the importance of taking into account the heterogeneity of women and their belonging to different social groups with different social, economic and political capital. For instance, access to economic and financial resources allows some women to challenge gender relations but does not guarantee the empowerment of all women.
This symposium is part of the project "Strengthening the capacity of equality actors" funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) and coordinated by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) in partnership with the Arab Women’s Center for Training and Research (CAWTAR), the Federation of Women’s Rights Leagues (FLDF), the Mediterranean Women’s Forum (FFM), the French State and RUSEMEG. It is also part of the project "Developing women’s Empowerment", labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM).
This platform is part of the Axis 1 "Strengthening the capacities of equality actors" of the Priority Solidarity Fund "Women for the future in the Mediterranean" funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women's Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.