Review – Arab Women in Architecture
As announced on this blog here, the 1. Architektur Film Tage in Zurich took place on November 17-19th and hold the projection of the documentary “Arab Women in architecture”.
Unable to attend this event, I was really happy to find the movie available on Youtube and decided to write a small review and encourage you to actually take the time to watch this short (56 min.) and very inspiring documentary.
” It is a documentary that features interviews with nineteen Arab architects from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia. It explores the subject of the practice of architecture by Arab women architects and features stories on their experiences, challenges, and achievements “, more precisely, themes as education, teaching, architectural practices, vision of architecure or motherhood are discussed.
It is on this last topic “Mothehood” that I would particularly like to focus in this article. Why this theme ? Because even if parenthood includes, usually, a man and a woman, nowadays the consequence of children is mainly bored by women and has a huge impact on their career.
– The biggest challenge I faced in my professional career was the birth of my first daughter –
Nida’ Masannat, Jordan
This fact is even more visible in Arab societies where the division of roles in the society is more conservative than in our European societies, even though in the end, women generally faced the same issues.
– Sometimes you are told that you have to make a choice at the beginning of your career (…) you feal deafeated since the beginning –
Sandra Hiari, Jordan
This notion of choice is a recurring one and is often followed by a feeling of guilt by the women, who feel like they “abandon” their family and are not “good mothers”.
However, all those women never complain or consider themselves like victims. They did make a choice: to get an education, to have a career AND a family. They explain their struggles, their mixed feelings but most importantly they try to think of solutions. Meisa Batanyed, a Jordanese architect, even managed to change the laws and to authorize women to work from home in order to help them and
– not lose her during her most important working years –
Another option choosen by women is to open their own practice, as this gives them more flexibility and freedom. Some of them even decides to simply take their children at their office.
However, even if they do not wait “to be saved” and do it themselves perfectly, it is a whole system that has to follow.
– in order for women to excel, the society should change –
Suad Amiry, Palestine
Of course, laws have to be modified but not only, other topics like children education or the division of the tasks at home between man and woman are also very important, maybe the most important. As a matter of fact, it is really important for children and men to see another vision of women. A new model has to be built, as Jala Makhzoumi, Iraq, says it very well
– I believe it is important for males (…) to see women work and not just stay home to serve them –
To conclue, this documentary portraits everyday women. Often in the media, a successful woman is presented as a kind of wonderwoman, to whom it is really hard to identify. Not here. Here, you will hear women talking about their struggles, doubts, and achievements. In the end, their love for architecture is intact and if you were wondering if it was possible to have a career and a family, you have your answer. It is a YES. You just have to go for it, as no one else is going to do it for you.
– There aren’t many big challenges. There are small difficulties that we should overcome, and the only way to overcome them is for a woman to believe in what she is doing –
Basma Uraiqat, Jordan