Tag Archives: Alexandra Kinias

Malala Yousafzai’s Journey to the UN, by Alexandra Kinias

Malala Yousafzai’s Journey to the UN

by Alexandra Kinias

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is a breath of fresh air in an environment polluted with gunpowder and radicalism. She is a spring blossom growing in a field of thorny bushes, only to be injured by their needles. In October 2012, on her way back from school, Malala’s school bus was ambushed by the Taliban. She was shot with one bullet, which went through her head, neck, and ended in her shoulder. The young girl was left to die, together with two of her friends who were also shot on site. She was fifteen years old.

Though Malala was not the first to be assaulted by this terrorist group, she was specifically targeted in this tragic attack that was condemned worldwide. Many other girls face the same fate together with their teachers in sporadic attacks around Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan where the Taliban influence dominates. The girls’ only crime was going to school.

Malala’s journey to recover from her brain injuries was remarkable, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The young girl has demonstrated, throughout her life, nothing but strength, resilience and courage.

Growing up in the Swat province in Pakistan, Malala had experienced the Taliban’s rule first hand. A smart young student, in 2009, at the age of 12, she wrote for a BBC blog under a pseudo name about her experience living under the Taliban during the battle of Swat. As the war intensified, her family was dispersed from their hometown and Malala ended up living in a refugee camp for a few months. Later that year, after her family reunited at the end of the war, she returned home only to find that the Taliban had closed the girls’ schools. Inspired by her father’s activism in political life, Malala committed herself to become a politician and an activist for girl’s rights. In the documentary for the NYTimes, Class Dismissed, she explained why she wanted to be involved in the political life, “I have a new dream … I must be a politician to save this country. There are so many crises in our country. I want to remove these crises.”

By the end of 2009, she had received wide international exposure and began to publicly advocate for female education. She brought the world’s attention to the critical situation of girl’s education in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In her speeches, she bravely condemned the rule of the Taliban and demanded the right of girls to go to school. After receiving the National Youth Peace Prize in Pakistan, her name received wider recognition, but that came with a price: her life was in peril. At the age of 12, Malala was receiving death threats from the Taliban. But in defiance of them, she didn’t deter from the active role and the course of life she had set for herself. As the death threats failed to silence her, the Taliban leaders unanimously agreed to kill her in a meeting they held in the summer of 2012.

The Pakistani Taliban justified their failed assassination attempt by claiming Malala was the symbol of the infidels and obscenity, and announced that, if she survived, the group would target her again. They blamed her father for encouraging her to attack the Taliban in her speeches. According to the Taliban, Malala’s defending her right and the right of girls to go to school was propaganda against Islam, but the truth of the matter is that the Taliban view women’s education as a direct threat to them and what they represent. Malala was shot in the head. They wanted to blow her brain out. That’s exactly what the Taliban want; to rob women their right and privilege to think. Taliban fear the education of women. With girl’s education they will lose their control and dominance over them, this control that only thrives with ignorance.

After the recovery from this reprehensible attack, Malala emerged stronger and more resilient than ever. On July 12, 2013, on her sixteenth birthday, she delivered a speech to the UN that was viewed by millions of people worldwide. On the event that was dubbed as Malala Day, she was draped with the shawl of the late Benazir Buhto, the Pakistani politician who was also assassinated by another radical group. Malala captivated hearts with her speech and received multiple standing ovations as she delivered her powerful statement that incited peace, forgiveness, courage and strength. Her speech to the UN was not just a blow to the terrorists who wanted to silence her, but also a reminder of which side the world is standing. The battle between darkness and light is long and fierce. Even though the weapons of the darkness are more deadly, but as Malala said in her speech, “Pens are mightier than guns.”

The aspiring young woman is setting an example of hope and determination. She is a role model of defiance for all the girls who are battling to go to school under inhumane conditions, and bullets. Malala believes that education is the only hope for a better future and she is determined to fight for every child’s right for education.“So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first,” Malala said.

To view Malala’s Speech at the UN, click here.

Reprinted with permission from “Silenced Voices, Wasted Lives.”

Alexandra Kinias, Writing for Peace AdviserAbout Alexandra Kinias

Born and raised in Egypt, Alexandra Kinias graduated as a Mechanical Engineer in 1987. She pursued a career overseas with a multinational corporation that built power distribution plants on the Caribbean Island of Antigua and Barbuda.  She moved to America in 1995 and worked for a company that did business in the Middle East and Europe. In American, Alexandra began her career as a writer. She studied screenplay and creative writing. A screenplay writer, novelist and a photographer. Her passion for movies, books, art and extensive world traveling is translated in her writing and photography. She co-wrote the story of the movie Cairo Exit, censored in Egypt, yet received international recognition and won best non-European film in the European Independent Film festival.

She is an advocate for women’s rights. Her blog Silenced Voices, Wasted lives is dedicated to women’s issues in general and women in the Middle East in particular. Her published fiction novel Black Tulips takes place between Egypt and the USA. Black Tulips reveals the hardships that women living in male dominant societies are exposed to. Her articles are published in Kalimat magazine, a North American publication about the Arab region. Alexandra lives with her husband in Scottsdale, AZ and she is working on her non-fiction book Silenced Voices, a collage of her articles about women’s issues. Learn more about Alexandra Kinias and her work here.

Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace News

Writing for Peace Young Writers' Contest2014 Young Writers Contest

The Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

DoveTales Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

A Glimpse, by Alexandra Kinias

A Glimpse

by Alexandra Kinias

The thermal blanket that covered the skies of Cairo had trapped the smog in the atmosphere and caused the temperature to soar. The woman who stood by the bus door was covered from head to toe in a black burque and black gloves, with only a slit for her eyes to see through. She was suffocated by the body heat of the sweaty passengers who crammed inside the bus like a can of sardines.  Her sticky sweat rolled under her armpits and between her thighs and intensified her feeling of heat. The bus maneuvered through the congested traffic and hobbled to the stop. She fought her way out and almost tripped when a passenger stepped on the tail of her long burque. Instantly, the street was flooded with the passengers who raced out from the belly of the bus. In another instant, and challenging the existing laws of physics, the bus was filled with double the number of passengers who showed high acrobatic skills in climbing it, scrambling inside, squeezing their way through and trampling over the passengers who were already on board.

The bus moved away from the station, emitting an enormous black cloud of burnt oil from its muffler. The woman coughed as she hurried away from inside the cloud. The traffic light turned red, but none of the cars stopped.  She looked right and left and then collected her courage and attempted to cross the street, in spite of the moving cars. A speedy car appeared in front of her and almost hit her. The car broke, its tires screeched and the driver yelled at her from inside the car. She jumped back on the sidewalk defeated by the congestion. She took a deep breath to relax her heart that raced in her chest. A police officer with a whistle in his mouth appeared from nowhere and was able to stop the cars, but the light had already turned green and the cars started to move again. The woman dodged the cars and weaved her way to the other side maneuvering between cabs, mini-buses, pedestrians, scooters, bikes and a donkey cart overloaded with baskets of fresh produce.

To celebrate her success in crossing the road, she dashed towards the sugar-cane juice store at the intersection and rested her body against the cold ceramic tiles, that covered the inside and outside of the store, to catch her breath. Inside the store, a guy behind the counter fed the rollers of the squeezer with the long stems of sugar cane. He turned the switch on and the rollers squeezed the juice into a container and the pulp fell off the rollers. A young boy picked the crushed pulp off the ground and dumped it next to where the woman stood. Flies buzzed over it.  The icy cold tall glasses of the golden sweet juice covered with white foam looked so inviting. She was already late, but she stepped inside the crowded store and stood in line waiting for her turn.  When she got in front of the counter, the guy behind it handed her a tall glass. She picked it up with her gloves and walked to the corner of the store. The curious eyes of the guy behind the counter followed her as she removed her face cover and gulped the cold juice. Their eyes locked for a moment and then she smiled and winked at him. Before he recovered from the surprise, the woman had already covered her face again, put the glass down on the counter in front of him and walked out of the store.

Alexandra Kinias’s short story, “A Glimpse,” was published earlier in Silenced Voices, Wasted Lives, and reprinted here with permission by the author.

Black Tulip, by Alexandra KiniasAbout Alexandra Kinias

Writing for Peace Adviser

Born and raised in Egypt, Alexandra Kinias graduated as a Mechanical Engineer in 1987. She pursued a career overseas with a multinational corporation that built power distribution plants on the Caribbean Island of Antigua and Barbuda.  She moved to America in 1995 and worked for a company that did business in the Middle East and Europe. In American, Alexandra began her career as a writer. She studied screenplay and creative writing. A screenplay writer, novelist and a photographer. Her passion for movies, books, art and extensive world traveling is translated in her writing and photography. She co-wrote the story of the movie Cairo Exit, censored in Egypt, yet received international recognition and won best non-European film in the European Independent Film festival.

She is an advocate for women’s rights. Her blog Silenced Voices, Wasted lives is dedicated to women’s issues in general and women in the Middle East in particular. Her published fiction novel Black Tulips takes place between Egypt and the USA. Black Tulips reveals the hardships that women living in male dominant societies are exposed to. Her articles are published in Kalimat magazine, a North American publication about the Arab region. Alexandra lives with her husband in Scottsdale, AZ and she is working on her non-fiction book Silenced Voices, a collage of her articles about women’s issues.

Writing for Peace News:

This spring, Writing for Peace will look at gun violence and women’s equality, two important issues that are often intertwined. We’ll take a step back from the inflammatory gun control debate by exploring the subject through poetry, essays and fiction.

Equity for Women Writers

Writing for Peace encourages all young people to write and to believe their writing can make a difference, but is that equally true for boys and girls? Sadly, the latest VIDA Count indicates that we have a long way to go to achieve gender equality in the literary world. Please help us reverse this trend by reading works written be women and promoting your favorite women authors. Ask your children who they are reading in school, supplement their reading list with books by women authors, and talk to their teachers, librarians, and principals about adding women authors to their curriculum. Take note of the authors reviewed in your local papers and advocate for women authors. Head to your library or book store with a list of the twelve amazing women on our Advisory Panel. And please make a statement in support of women writers here. Thank you!

Young Writers Contest

Our 2013 Young Writers Contest closed on March 1st with 106 entries from close to a dozen different countries! Announcements will be made on May 1st, 2013. Congratulations to every young writer who participated!  The 2014 Young Writers Contest Guidelines will be posted on June 1st, 2013.

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts

The  “Occupied” 2013 issue of DoveTales has gone to press! The release date is slated for March 30th, but you will begin seeing some exciting changes on the website before then. Stay tuned, and thank you for your support!

Maija Rhee Devine, Writing for Peace AdviserIntroducing Maija Rhee Devine

Writing for Peace Adviser

Writing for Peace welcomes Maija Rhee Devine to our Advisory Panel! Maija’s powerful anti-war poem, My Brother’s Computer, appeared in both its original Korean and its English translation in PAW Post No. 24. Learn more about Maija’s work here, and watch for future blog posts from this exceptional writer.

 

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing to Mobilize the Global Community, by Alexandra Kinias

Alexandra Kinias, Writing for Peace AdviserWriting to Mobilize the Global Community

by Alexandra Kinias

 

My focus as a writer and activist has always been directed toward establishing equal rights for women, and collaborating with the Writing for Peace team is a dream come true. In this time and age, with the availability of the social media, writing has become an important weapon in fighting against the injustices that women face in many parts of the world.

In 2010, the United Nations introduced an agency dedicated to promoting the rights of women and girls, yet enormous violations are still reported on a daily basis. While you are reading this post, women around the world are being bullied, raped, oppressed, controlled and punished under the banner of culture, traditions, tribal laws and religious scripts that encourage violence, abuse and persecution.  The quest for material about women’s issues always takes me on an emotional journey filled with an abundance of painful stories.

As women in the west are fighting for more rights, there are women elsewhere who are still unable to procure a passport or travel without their male guardians’ consent. Some are not allowed to drive a car, or work, or are forced against their will to cover up from head to toe. In many countries, laws favor men over women, actually giving men license to abuse girls and women.  In 2010, in the United Arab Emirates, the emerging pearl that is dazzling the world with its wealth and architecture, a court ruled that a man may physically discipline his wife and daughters as long as the beatings don’t leave bruises.

When Time Magazine featured the disfigured face of Bibi Aisha on its summer 2012 cover, the world was horrified by the gruesome story of the young Afghan woman whose Taliban husband cut off her nose and ears as punishment for running away. The Taliban’s medieval practices also include execution and death by stoning. But this brutality is not restricted to Taliban extremists; in Afghanistan, a law was drafted that actually gave men the right to starve their wives if they refused to have sex with them.  Bibi’s story is not unique. In fact, Afghani women have been known to burn themselves to death to escape from their husbands.

In much of the developing world, girls are trafficked for sex, subjected to female genital mutilation, denied the right of education, and sold into marriages before they reach adolescence. Every day, approximately 25,000 girls become child brides. It is estimated that one in seven girls is married before she turns 15. Brutal flogging and vitriolage, the act of throwing acid onto the person’s body to disfigure them, are still used to punish them. As such practices are embedded in the culture and traditions, and encouraged by religious clerics in these societies; it will be hard to eradicate them, unless there is a global intervention to save the lives and future of these innocent girls.  It is shameful to say that in the twenty-first century, women are killed in the name of honor.

Women’s freedom, rights, health, education, social and financial independence is important for the prosperity of their communities. The future generations depend on them and so does the future of the world we are living in.  Writing brings awareness to such issues, mobilizing the global community to take measures to improve the lives of women. We have one world to share, and we are all responsible for its peace and prosperity.

My novel, Black Tulips, features four Egyptian women from very diverse social and economic backgrounds that face a common adversary – a male dominant society. Sherine Radwan, the first appointed prime minister in Egypt is challenged not only by a corrupt cabinet, but by her husband as well.

In this excerpt, Sherine’s husband has just invoked the triple talaq, “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you!” As prime minister, the humiliation is acute. Despite her house keeper’s comforting words, Sherine feels the powerlessness of a woman in a patriarchal culture.

Her response reflects her exasperation:

Tell me the name of one woman you know who wasn’t abused by a man simply because he could get away with it, because the law is on his side.”

“Why don’t you change the law?” asked Rashida. “You are the only one who can do it.”

“You sound like Ida. You guys don’t understand. It’s easier to start wars, negotiate treaties, invade countries or enforce sanctions on another than to issue laws to protect women’s rights. Any right given to a woman is one taken away from a man. Believe me, someone will find a line in a forgotten book written a thousand years ago to justify why women can’t do this or that. Rashida, sustaining the status quo is a guarantee to maintain the artificial power imbalance between the genders that had been dictated millennia ago. I’m tired of fighting. My whole life has been a continuous war, one battle after the other.”

Black Tulip, by Alexandra Kinias

About Alexandra Kinias…

Born and raised in Egypt, Alexandra Kinias is a mechanical engineer, screenwriter, photographer, and novelist. She co-wrote the internationally acclaimed movie Cairo Exit, censored in Egypt, but winner of the prize for best non-European film in the European Independent Film festival. Her articles appear in Kalimat magazine, a North American publication about the Arab region, and her blog Silenced Voices, Wasted Lives is dedicated to women’s issues in general and women in the Middle East in particular. Her novel, “Black Tulips”, reveals the hardships that women are exposed to living in male dominant societies. To purchase on Amazon, click here.

Read more about Alexandra here.

 

 

Get Involved:

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for Peace

 

Call for Submissions: Be a part of our first issue of DoveTales.  The Writing for Peace Literary Journal, DoveTales is accepting poetry, fiction, essays, photography, and art. The submission deadline is October 30th. Find Submission guidelines here.

2013 Young Writers Contest: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction divisions, ages 13-19. Find guidelines here.

Writing for Peace is developing an online Mentor Program: Learn more and apply here.

 

Copyright © 2012 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.