The Twitterverse is often abuzz with people clamouring over causes and concerns, from Starbucks changing their Christmas cups in the West to our key concern in Egypt: #النوم_بالنسبالك
. We're an insightful bunch. However, somewhere amid the commotion and our feelings about sleep, a particular hashtag caught our attention: #NoAllMalePanels
. Starting out in the West and taking Twitter by storm, this hashtag is the spawn of a grassroots movement comprised of American Muslim women who've yet to find themselves represented among the many all-male panels at Muslim events.
Arabs can attest, far more than any other cultural group across the globe, to the earth-shattering power of the Internet. As Egyptians, this hits even closer to home. Farfetched beyond anyone's imagination was the idea that we could rally the masses for a unified cause - masses who had never met or heard of one another before. Disregarding the frivolous rubbish that makes its way onto our Facebook feeds, social media has been giving a voice to the voiceless, while at times giving a soapbox to those who needn't one. In the case of #NoAllMalePanels
, we see the discussion prompted by this concern across the Twitterverse.
Straightforward as it seems, the hashtag has drawn female Muslim voices from across the Internet who are opposed to all-male panels at Muslim events, conferences, and workshops. Of particular concern is the presence of all-male panels speaking to women's issues. Makes sense, right? The American Muslim women behind the endeavour have even been compelled to start an online petition
to be signed by Muslim men, pledging not to partake in nor support events with all male speakers or leaders. The #NoAllMalePanels movement has seen plenty of support and sparked insightful conversation between men and (mainly) women on Twitter regarding female representation in Islamic events.
It was refreshing and encouraging to see Muslim male supporters of the movement begin their own hashtag, #MuslimMaleAllies to bring attention to the issue.
Moving the dialogue forward, some women came forward suggesting solutions for the all-male panel issues. The easy solution is to just put women on the panels, right? But it's not that simplistic. @EmanHAly
propels the conversation by offering alternative solutions to the otherwise immanent problem:
However, just as the Twitterverse has spoken in support of #NoAllMalePanels, opposing voices have also expressed their concerns about the matter.
It is easy to identify that women's voices are easily drowned out amid the cacophony of a male-dominated religion; however, it is only fair to note that there are undeniably two sides to every story. Evident through the status quo and its digital challengers, the case of #NoAllMalePanels is not a black-and-white matter but, rather, a grey area in which perspective and experiences are at play in every circumstance.