As the audience sat waiting for the start of the event, the hours previous to the beginning of it had burst with activity, people were working everywhere. Technical guys testing and re-testing their equipment, TEDxBaghdadWomen team; which consists of 20+ members, all of which are women only, and led by Suhad Al-Fartousi, Co-organizer of TEDxBaghdad, had done checks and re-checks in order to ensure everything had been going smoothly, camera crew and live stream people had been restless, and everyone had been on edge.
A bee hive indeed, and amidst all this seemingly chaotic mess, one wouldn’t have believed it was going to work. Then, at 10:30 am, the hall doors opened and people started pouring in, lights were dimmed and TEDxBaghdadWomen started.
For people who are unfamiliar with this major event, TEDxBaghdadWomen; major event, focusing on the womens’ creativity exclusively; it consists of a team of female members and speakers, whose job it is to shed light on an important but somehow neglected part of society, WOMEN. In third world countries, women are often perceived as oppressed individuals, deprived of simple rights, suffering in silence, and often belittled, for in a male-dominated world, men tend to think of women as somehow inferior to them in terms of ideas and abilities, determination and success. But, as women speakers stood under the hall’s crystal chandelier and spoke about their experiences, they’ve succeeded in proving that women are a power that can move mountains.
With 400+ attendees, including special envoys of the US Embassy in Baghdad and representatives of the UN agencies, especially from UNWomen, the event began by playing the Iraqi National Anthem, played by Haneen (Oud) and Ula (Nie), whose performance brought feelings that took everyone in the crowd to the skies.
And speaker after speaker, each generously sharing their experience and story with the audience to inspire any lost soul that maybe listening, a soul that thought it is too late to do anything, from a small girl who lost her eyesight at the age of six, she had only four basic senses, and yet, she has gotten out of life what most people can normally get with five senses, with a rock solid will and undeterred determination to achieve something in her life, she finished school, graduated from college and found a job.
Another woman, who married at a young age, was deprived of both education and childhood, decided it was never too late to finish her learning and insisted on finishing her education. An architect, unfazed by her elementary school’s art teacher whom had reproached her for drawing a whole city in art lesson instead of a simple house had grown up to implement her own country’s history in her art works to create architecture masterpieces.
Not only this, a documentary movie about the active role of the women all over the world, made by the UNWomen agency, was screened for the attendees to emphasize how the women worldwide are working for the best interest of humanity.
The audience was amazed by the talents the speakers had and couldn’t help but wonder how many other stories and experiences are out there, will the world ever be able to hear them? Well, the event had given them hope that it might, one day.
A nice touch was added in the middle of the event, Mr. Yahya AlAbdeli, Chairman of TEDxBaghdad, came up on stage and asked the audience’s members that have ideas to step forward, giving them 30 seconds to present those ideas, a flood of ideas kept coming and a long line was formed, all eager to present their ideas. He had also made the audience laugh out loud when he said: “we won’t have a shortage of speakers next year.”
TEDxBaghdadWomen is a reminder to us all that our women, young and old, are very important and their role is no less crucial than that of men in terms of pushing their country forward, baby steps are taken but they remain steps, no matter how small, we all have to start somewhere, our women have started a long time ago and on December 1st, 2012 we saw a first glimpse of their achievements and more are on the way.
To watch more photos of the event, find the Flickr slideshow below
TEDxBaghdad Bloggers Team:
Asma. Farah, Safa and Al-Nasir Bellah