My Walk to Equality: Essays, Stories & Poetry by Papua New Guinean Women – ed. Rashmii Amoah Bell

a nutshell: this eclectic anthology gives voice to diverse women from all corners of Papua New Guinean society, gathering their compelling thoughts and moving experiences under four themes: relationships, self-awareness, challenging gender roles, and legacy

a line: “The skies open up and let down a shower. It drowns out the sound giving the drummer more power . . . My sister, my sister did you feel the drum beat?” (an excerpt from Vanessa Gordon’s devastating poem ‘Drumbeat’)

an image: having grown up in a culture of misogyny and colourism, photographer Tania Basiou captures truly beautiful images following her decision that through her lens there’d be body positivity, femininity, empowerment and a celebration not only of being a woman, but also a Papua New Guinean woman

a thought: the intrinsic value of story-telling is highlighted by Theresa Meki, who recounts one of the tumbuna (old legend) stories that her mother, a Kafe woman from the Eastern Highlands, would tell her children to impart an understanding of justice and why one must respect women

a fact: this book’s publication was spurred on by the fact that Bell was the only women on the panel ‘PNG: A State of Writing’ at the 2016 Brisbane Writers Festival

 

want to read My Walk to Equality? visit here*

*Sorry for the Amazon link – it’s the only place I could access the book; please let me know if you find alternatives!

The Hidden Face of Eve by Nawal El Saadawi (tr./ed. Dr Sherif Hetata)

Nawal el Saadawi's The Hidden Face of Eve

a nutshell: published in 1977, this landmark discourse on women in the Arab world is as disturbing and compelling as ever – probing FGM, sexual violence/suppression, fertility, marriage, injustice, sex work, religion, history and literature

a line: an extract from Article 67 of Egypt’s Common Law on Marriage here typified the prevailing attitude to women – “No alimony is liable to a wife if she refuses to yield herself to her husband … is the victim of a rape … or if she is suffering from any condition which might prevent the husband from utilising her as a wife”

an image: though the opening scene of Nawal’s own circumcision made a profoundly indelible impression, another image that stayed with me was her depiction of Arab feminist writer May Ziade’s exceptional mind & tragic end – personal setbacks prompted relatives to force her into Asfouria Hospital for Mental Diseases where eventually a report proved she was of sound mind; she returned to Egypt and died alone, aged 55, in a small flat in Cairo 

a thought: Nawal often returns to an essential paradox in how girls are brought up in the Arab world – the insistence on the need to attract an eligible husband, but simultaneously to put her ‘dangerous seductiveness’ out of sight

a fact: scholars have uncovered many depictions of women as the same size as men from the preliminary stages of ancient Egyptian society, indicating gender equality; a subsequent decrease in their size in such drawings/engravings corresponds with the appearance of private property (2420-2140 BC) – Nawal also points out that among ancient Romans the word ‘familia’ constituted a man’s possessions i.e. land, houses, money, slaves, women, children

 

want to read The Hidden Face of Eve? visit here