Empowering Women: A new concept for the Middle East

March 16, 2009

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Not -I repeat not- an image from Lebanese campaign (from my post on Adfreak):

In the Public Service category at Dubai Lynx, there is a case for the Hariri Foundation, an entity that wants to address the imbalance of gender roles in Lebanese society. I write about it here, not to comment on its creative quality (the judges outcome remain a secret), but because of the provocative subject matter.

It should come as little surprise that in many parts of the MENA region women are either ignored as viable members of society or, worse yet, subjugated by their male counterparts. To combat this unfortunate and archaic reality, The Hariri Foundation has created the “Women Empowerment Program” via an integrated campaign called “Khede Kasra.”

The way it worked involved a manipulation of the accent mark, or “Kasra” into a symbolic sign of female empowerment. Obviously, the Kasra can be seen (a mark on the alphabet) and heard (inflection of the language). To augment mass media, stickers of the accent mark were distributed nationwide, with the area’s women encouraged to apply them onto signage thereby changing the inflection of messages from masculine to feminine –an empowering gesture.

In the Middle East, one normally hears automated messages in the masculine tense. So in Hariri’s radio campaign these blatantly sexist messages are called into question, empowering women to “push society (to be) heard.”

Television and web materials were also employed.

Whether this solved the “problem” or not isn’t knowable but it certainly seems a step in the right direction.

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