Features, Video

Why I Marched

By Elissa Freiha, Cofounder of WOMENA

I am often asked where I come from, what culture I connect with, and it tends to lead to a very messy, long-winded answer. In short, I am Arab-American by blood and was born and raised in France, and for the sake of this article I will elaborate on the lineage of women that I come from and the culture that they have instilled in me.

My American side consists of my mother who has five sisters, two daughters, a niece and a mother of her own. My Arab side consists of my two aunts and seven cousins. In France, I was raised by two darling and dramatic women. And all these women represent dancers, engineers, educators, artists, entrepreneurs, mothers, writers, film makers, realtors and activists – and one of them is arguably one of the most influential Middle Eastern socio-political writers of her generation. All this to say that whilst growing up, I got a front row seat to the forming of an Arab-American alliance of ladies and despite geopolitical tensions and my parents’ divorce; the decades-old cross-culture sisterhood is still going strong.

Furthermore, since my co-founder and I have started WOMENA, we have seen that openness and support first hand. Our team of five women represent 8 cultures and those values have become pillars of our brand.

Through all of this, I have learned that women across the world have been forging bonds of unity since forever, and it is this bond that has allowed for the progressive plight of equal rights to surge through the modern era.

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So when the multi-cultural people of the United States decided to march to reaffirm women’s rights in their country, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to take part and show solidarity. I gave into the feminist F.O.M.O (Fear Of Missing Out) and flew to Washington DC to take part in the flagship March with 500,000 others- double the expected turnout. It was 48 hours of mayhem, and it was more satisfying than I can express. More so, it stands as a testament to the universal value of equality that this march was able to expand so fast from one city to 673 cities around the world with over 3 million participants.

In retrospect, when I am now asked where I come from and what culture I connect with, I like to say that it is a Third Culture, a WOMENA culture, a culture of conviction that is always ready to march ahead for the fundamental values of feminism that bind us together.

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