A Woman's Month! See what the Arab Female Creatives are Doing in London and What Else is Coming Up...

Synonymous with the global struggle for the recognition and improvement of women's rights and status on all economic, political and cultural fronts, March is always alive and kicking with activity that celebrates female achievements thus far and taking stock of what else needs to be done. It also brings Mother's Day and is dubbed Women's History Month so as to highlight and educate on women's contributions in history and contemporary society. 

London alone will host hundreds of meetings, gatherings and parties organised by different groups.

'Arab Women Artists Now' (AWAN)

For the Arab woman in London in particular, I can highly recommend the 'Arab Women Artists Now' aka AWAN Festival. Organised by Arts Canteen and now in its fourth year, it brings together mainly Arab-British women who work in the creative fields and offers them the chance to brainstorm and network as well as having some fun in the process! It is open for everyone - male and female, Arab and non-Arab - to attend and take part in. Taking place 1-25 March, the schedule has music, workshops, a visual art exhibition, films, comedy and performance.

For more on AWAN on Nahla Ink: http://nahlaink.com/london/awan-returns-niche-festival-strengthening-pow...

'Sheroes' Social Exhibition

Another fascinating March initiative that has come my way is the 'Sheroes' social exhibition and its engagement programme. Championing 'little-known women warriors, leading ladies and unsung stars', it is a collaborative project bringing together UK and international artists, feminist organisations, charities and the general public. Using art and creativity, it encourages interaction and dialogue between the audience and the artists centred on particular themes and social issues. Running from 8-11 March, it will include the participation of Arab female artists.

For more on Sheroes: https://www.whoisyourshero.com/

Human Rights Watch Film Festival (HRWFF)

The annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival will also be touring London this month from 7-16 March; and, coincidentally, two of four films connected with the MENA region also cover women specific stories from the Arab world: look out for 'The Poetess' (based on the tale of Saudi poetess Hissa Hilal) and 'Naila And The Uprising' (on the real-life journey of Naila Ayesh, a key figure in the first Intifada).​

For more on the HRW FF (London): https://ff.hrw.org/london

'Retracing A Disappearing Landscape' Exhibition & In Conversation With Najlwa Benshatwan

Aside from the female theme, it is a busy Arts season with a great variety of other exhibitions, music, dance, performance and more to choose from.

One big project to give a heads up will be the 'Retracing A Disappearing Landscape' multi-disciplinary exhibition launching on 29 March at the P21 Gallery. The first of its kind internationally, it will present visual artworks, installations, films and photography that explore people's direct experience of and fascination with memory and personal history relating to modern day Libya. 

Involving a parallel programme of relevant events, the first presentation takes place ahead of the actual show on 10 March at the P21.

It will be a conversation with Libyan writer Najwa Benshatwan, who will discuss with Ghazi Gheblawi some of the themes running through her highly acclaimed novel ‘The Slave Pens’. (Shortlisted for the 2017 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, the book sheds light on an ugly period of Libya’s history – when slave trade markets flourished during the Ottoman era, way before the Italian colonisation and prior to Libya’s declared independence in 1951). This will be moderated in English.

For more information: http://p21.gallery/events/book-reading-the-slave-pens/ 

My Curious Inbox 

As always, to find out what else is happening for MENA-inspired arts and culture events in London, please check My Curious Inbox that is regularly updated: http://nahlaink.com/curious-inbox

And if you wish to be in the super-know, you can also follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NahlaInk

Best wishes to all! 

Nahla Al-Ageli

Freelance Journalist + Blogger

London, March 2018