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Young Arab talents tackle gender-based violence in regional arts competition

Beirut, Lebanon

Beirut, 12 December 2018 (Communication and Information Unit) – The 2018 edition of the regional arts competition organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) at the Lebanese American University (LAU) on the occasion of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence has been a huge success.
The competition attracted almost 200 submissions from young people from 10 Arab countries, who submitted paintings, photos, videos, songs and poems on the theme ‘#HearMeToo’: Speak up against violence against women and girls.  The winners of the competition were announced at a ceremony on the LAU Beirut campus on 6 December.
In her opening statement at the event, Mehrinaz El Awady, Director of the ESCWA Centre for Women, noted that the quantity, quality and variety of the artwork submitted had grown remarkably since the first edition of the regional arts competition in 2016. “We have received almost 200 submissions in this third edition, including from very young children. This impressive participation highlights the desire of young people from the whole Arab region to have their voice heard on the issue of gender-based violence”, Ms. El Awady added. “The success of the competition is also the result of our strong partnership with LAU to create activities that can engage youth on the issues tackled by ESCWA.”

Lina Abirafeh, Director of IWSAW, said: “I am blown away by the passion and talent of young people in this region. Clearly, we have found a winning formula to encourage them to express themselves and to stand up against violence against women. I'm so proud of their work and inspired by their commitment to the cause. The Institute will do whatever it can to showcase their talents and use their art for advocacy and activism well beyond the 16 Days of Activism.”

The best submissions to the contest were showcased at the event, alongside original creations by LAU fashion design students. The event also featured a roundtable discussion with Natasha Choufani, actress and artist, Jason Steel, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Fashion Design Program at LAU), and Michelle and Noel Keserwany, artists and activist.
The panel discussion was moderated by Reem Maghribi, Managing Director of the NGO Panelists shared their personal experiences of how they have used their own art (acting and writing, fashion design, songwriting) to fight gender-based violence. To conclude the event, Ali Awada, the winner of this year’s competition, performed a live version of his song “Haqqik” in front of a full and youthful audience.

The results of the competition are as follows:
-1st place: Ali Awada  – Lebanon – “Haqqik” (rap song)                          
-2nd place: Tarek Taoud – Morocco (photo)
-3rd place: Nour Saleh – Lebanon (animated painting)
-4th place: Amina Ahmad Moukahal – Lebanon (painting)
-5th place: Samer Abul Hasan – Palestine (Video). Youtube Channel: Majartna
-Special mention: Samar Mazoughi (comic strip)
-Special mention: Maria Kassab, Charbel Chamoun and Sana El Haber –  Lebanon (video)
-Winner (children’s category): Inass Amer – Syria (drawing)

All winning submissions are available under the following link:

Pictures of the event are available here:

Winning artists are available for interviews and media stories - contact details will be provided upon request.

The 16 Days of Activism

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign (25 November – 10 December) serves as a time to raise awareness and increase momentum toward ending violence against women and girls worldwide.
In the framework of the annual campaign, United Nations partners are encouraged to host events with local, national, regional and global women’s movements, survivor advocates and women human rights defenders and create opportunities for dialogue between activists, policymakers and the public. The colour orange is a key theme unifying all activities, with buildings and landmarks lit and decorated in orange to bring global attention to the initiative.

ESCWA LAU Partnership

The ESCWA Center for Women (ECW) and LAU’s Institute for Women Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) have sustained an active collaboration on research, conferences and campaigns, including the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence and other youth-driven initiatives.
 Most recently, ECW staff led interactive discussions with students enrolled in LAU’s M.A. program in “Interdisciplinary Gender Studies” on subjects such as women’s political participation, violence against women, the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, and the regional state of gender justice.

The collaboration is intended to provide LAU students with the necessary knowledge, experience, and skills to facilitate their path from university to the professional world. Several students enrolled in the program have also been offered internships at ECW, allowing them to gain hands-on experience of the United Nations’ work on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Arab region.

Photo caption: Tarek Taoud, Morocco, 2nd prize


For more information:
Nabil Abu-Dargham +961-70-993144email:  
Ms Rania Harb: +961-70-008879
Ms Mirna Mahfouz:  +961-70-827372