As the URI Global and MENA Region Team travelled through Jordan, they reached the historic and awe-inspiring Wadi Rum red rose desert, also known as the land of the Beduin people. This movie-like landscape, backdrop to recognized movies such as Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars, and the Martian, is the homeland of local hero and Beduin artivist, Miss Wejdan.
Miss Wejdan is a self-taught artist using local resources, such as wood trunks and coffee powder in addition to other common tools). Through her drawing and painting she portrays the old Beduin culture. Her artwork highlights key moments in her ancestors' culture and aims to keep alive the Beduin traditions.
And that is not all! While Miss Wejdan is working to keep her traditions alive, she also uses art to call attention to changes that need to happen in her culture, specifically addressing the different kinds of violence (social, economically driven, physical) perpetrated against women.
The team visited the Albadiya for Intercultural Dialogue Initiative (AIDI), a community organization and URI Cooperation Circle, led by her uncle, the local community Beduin leader Khalad Al Gazi. During this visit, Miss Wejdan presented her drawings denouncing the violence suffered by women of her culture. One of the high points was the artwork for the social media campaign, she created in honor of the 16 days against women violence. This brave and inspiring work on social media drew attention worldwide. She was ostracized by some people who do not want to see women empowered; and she was praised by many women who felt represented and inspired by her art.
It is amazing how small things can go a long way. A simple white canvas paper turns into a shield against violence towards women in the hands of this artivist who elevates the plight and voices of so many in her culture and is heard worldwide.
Miss Wejdan’s brave work touches and inspires other hearts and minds around the world. URI is proud to count her as one among so many amazing peacebuilders.
As a woman and artist myself, I felt encouraged by the bravery of her activism and felt the duty of highlighting her story in this month of March, when we celebrate women and recognize women's leadership across countries and cultures.