Amman, Jordan- Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD)-Legal Aid held a panel discussion in the Royal Cultural Center as part of the Karama Human Rights Film Festival. This discussion brought together a wide variety of stakeholders such as activist filmmakers, concerned citizens and both local and international non-governmental organizations. The discussion is the result of ARDD-Legal Aid’s Voices project and the 16 Days of Activism campaign.
The panel was entitled, “Safe Spaces: at Home and in Displacement,” and sought to link the global 16 Days of Activism campaign against gender-based violence and Karama Film Festival’s theme of displacement under the premise of safe spaces. ‘Safe Spaces’ are the physical locations where men, women, girls and boys can feel physically and emotionally safe to share their experiences with professional staff dedicated to their protection. ‘Safe Spaces’ can also refer to creating social environments free of abuse and exploitation where refugees, residents, and citizens of a country can enjoy their lives in full. To demonstrate ‘Safe Spaces’, ARDD-Legal Aid displayed photos taken by photographer Rebecca Arnold in Zaatari Refugee Camp and the city of Zarqa.
The panel included three expert speakers with Hana Al-Araj from Orient TV moderating the discussion. The panel speakers included Arab Women Organization’s project manager Layla Naffa’ Hamarneh, UNRWA women’s program officer Aycheh Takhzant, and independent documentary filmmaker Widad Shafakoj. Layla Naffa’ Hamarneh explained the Arab Women Organizations approach to safe spaces in the protection of women and children from abusive conditions. Aycheh Takhzant described UNRWA’s perspective on the role of creating safe spaces for Syrian-Palestinian women in UN run camps and in the context of the ongoing Syrian crisis. Widad Shafakoj reflected on her two most recent documentary films that demonstrated the risk vulnerable communities like refugees and women face daily in the absence of places they can identify as being safe.
The panel also included four participants from ARDD-Legal Aid’s Syrian Voices and Accountability project. They described the many changes urban refugees face across Jordan. The Voices project seeks to highlight refugees’ voices as active agents of change rather than passive recipients of aid. Events like the Karama Film Festival are important platforms for dialogue between marginalized voices and those who can empower these voices.
The panel was concluded by a performance from Jordanian and Syrian youth from Zarqa. ARDD-Legal Aid in partnership with the Dutch charity organization Syrious Mission held a series of music workshops throughout November on what safe spaces meant to the children of Zarqa. Through these workshops the Zarqa youth group were enabled to developed their own songs with lyrics and beats relevant to issues they faced. The youth groups finally preformed their two songs in front of the panel quests and helped remind us how important safe spaces are for the health development of children and the community.
ARDD-Legal Aid is committed to the elimination of gender-based violence and respect for dignity of every human being regardless of what side of a border they find themselves.