In less than a week, a Christian satellite television will launch the first of 26 documentaries spotlighting the plight of women in the Middle East as part of a new campaign to improve the status of women in the patriarchal Arab society.
SAT-7 Arabic, a Christian television service created by and for the people of the Middle East and North Africa, will launch the series called “And I Am Not ‘Just’ A Woman’” on May 5.
Through more than two dozen documentaries from Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco, women who are the sole providers for their children, their younger siblings or their parents will be offered a rare chance to tell their stories.
“I feel compelled to raise the banners of justice for these women, because I, personally, have been marked by the injustices of a prejudiced society,” said Juliana Sfeir, executive producer of the series and part of the SAT-7 Lebanon office team. “Only those who have experienced society’s negative gaze, and know how hard it is to stand alone, bending under the heavy yoke of everyday life can understand what these women face day after day.”
Many women are the “head” of the household in Arab families, being the main or sole provider for their children because their husbands have died, left them, are abroad looking for work, or for other reasons cannot earn money.
On top of caring for their children, many women are also responsible for their younger siblings and parents.
Yet despite the large number of Arab women who are the main bread winner in the family, their society maintains laws that make it difficult for them to fulfill their responsibilities.
Women need to fight for legal guardianship of their children in cases of divorce or separation, for the right to an education, and for the right to social security or ownership of property.
Furthermore, many times women can only secure low paying jobs.
SAT-7’s Juliana Sfeir hopes to change the situation of women in the Middle East by raising awareness about their plight.
“This is my platform to raise their voice, to tell the world that they are not just women,” Sfeir said. “They are heroes who deserve the salute of a warrior.”
The Arab Christian producer explained that the series was developed out of her project for her Master degree’s thesis.
“Thanks to SAT-7, it developed into a much wider visionary project, thus becoming a greater campaign covering three major Arab and North African countries,” Sfeir said.
SAT-7 will also launch a live talk show later this year addressing the same topic.