Sydney-based author Amal Awad was fed up with the cliched depictions of Arab women by Western writers, so she travelled across Australia and the Middle East to speak directly with women of Arab heritage from all over the region about their own lives and their own opinions.
The result is a book, Beyond Veiled Cliches: The Real Lives of Arab Women, containing interviews with 60 women from very different backgrounds: lawyers, professors, ambassadors, activists, physicians – even a Lebanese clown. The women spoke about all sorts of issues affecting their lives from justice to history to sex and, yes, the veil.
In a culturally diverse region, what experiences do women across the Middle East have in common? How do both Muslim and non-Muslim Arab women feel about stereotypes of the Middle East? What kinds of progress are being made to improve the lives of Arab women by Arab women and how do these advancements look from the perspective of the women living them? With interviewee Joumanah El Matrah, Awad will discuss her travels and the candid and creative women she met along the way.
Amal Awad is a journalist, screenwriter, author and performer. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, ELLE, Frankie, Meanjin, Going Down Swinging, Daily Life, Sheilas, SBS Life and Junkee, as well as produced and presented for ABC Radio National.
Joumanah El Matrah is the CEO of the Australian Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights (AMWCHR) and a PhD student at Swinburne University – her Doctorate is on counter terrorism and its impact on Muslim communities. Joumanah has published a number of works on Muslim women in Australia. Trained as a psychologist, Ms El Matrah is a community development worker and has been active in the community welfare sector for 20 years.
Hilary Harper has a degree in English Literature and Cultural Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing, and 30 years’ experience in radio. She’s been at the ABC since 2005. She’s covered everything from news and current affairs to traffic reporting, arts, health, gardening, science, finance, education, relationships, parenting, and much discussion of food.