Finding alternatives for divorced women in Lebanon

Story - 2019-07-31
Independence. A word that comes with different connotations to different people; justice, security, stability, prosperity, dignity… the list can go on. To Doaa in Lebanon it also means belonging.
Doaa Lebanon
Photo: Ibtihal Al Aloul

27 year-old Doaa was married when she was 16, “still a child” in her own words. Seven years later she decided that she would get a divorce, regardless of the consequences. The stakes are high for women who would want to separate from their husband in the Bedouin community where she lives. The narrative she grew up with was that life itself comes to an end when marriage ends. For women that is.

The extended family was not happy when I decided to stand up on my feet […]. They would rather want me to spend the rest of my life at home; doing traditional domestic work and having no voice.

Doaa had little intention to toe the line of what was expected of her as an unmarried woman. She describes how the first time was particularly difficult. “I cried day and night, but this didn’t change the situation”.  She started to search for options.

Some women are privileged and many other have fewer chances, [If you] can’t go to school and pursue an education, it is not the end of the world. I think there are many ways to learn and engage in meaningful activities; vocational training is a good way.   

 Doaa had an interest in make-up art before she found the vocational training course through the organization Naba’a, supported by Swedish organization Palestinagrupperna. She decided to join the course and learn a profession she is passionate about. Apart from job opportunities and economic independence the course opened doors to, Doaa also describes how she has found a sense of purpose and belonging in a group that supports each other.

I wish to have my own beauty centre to educate other women who have fewer chances. My message to all the young women who fight to claim their rights, is that you are not alone in this struggle. It is hard in the beginning and you will hear a lot of voices that will try to stop you from making progress. Don’t listen to them. They will respect you when you contribute and achieve your goals.

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