I accidentally, while procrastinating, googled her name and read her CV. Before that, I only knew her as the woman who charmed Mr. Clooney. It turns out that Clooney is the lucky one, and not the other way around.
She is a name that have popped on my Facebook homepage, twitter timeline, Daily mail front page and probably every online and hardcopy magazine/newspaper out there in the last few weeks. Alamuddin is a Lebanese woman living in London with a career profile that would blow anyone’s mind away. She is a barrister (an English way of saying ‘lawyer’) specialising in human rights, international law, and criminal law. She has a BA from Oxford University and an LLM degree from New York University School of Law. As a barrister, she has advocated cases in domestic courts and all the way to the International Court of Justice. She is also an expert in criminal law and situations in the Middle East arena. I could really go on and on about this woman’s, like many many other women, extraordinary achievements and hardworking past and present.
Before this year, I have never read Amal Alamuddin’s name, nor have I heard about how an Arab woman is now a successful barrister in the United Kingdom representing cases in international courts. It may be lack of researching skills on my behalf? but it could also be the inefficiency of Middle East platforms which seem to lack focus on women and their achievements. Instead, they seem to enjoy highlighting ‘scandals’ which women are involved in, and ‘morality’ issues. I can count tens and hundreds of news pieces which I read this year only, that present women in a stereotypical and degrading way. Remember Jackie Chamoun? The lebanese participant in Sochi 2014 Olympics, who was harshly criticised when she was at Sochi by the Arab World’s media because someone found nude photos of her and decided to publish them? The media chose to focus only on that embarrassing part of her past, and not the fact that she was one of the only four Arabs participating in the 2014 Olympics.
I am sure there are a lot of Amal Alamuddin out there, women who have worked hard and have started from scratch in order to achieve their goals and accomplish better lives for themselves. Women who have fought and are still fighting tirelessly against stereotypes and taboos which surround them because of their gender. Just because Alamuddin was proposed to by one of the most eligible bachelors, that does not make it more important than her brilliant career. Who one decides to marry is a personal matter, and while I do agree that Clooney is a high profile celebrity with a lot of eager fans around the world who are willing to wait for hours just to see him or hear his voice, let us not make Alamuddin’s engagement to him HER greatest achievement.
Her success as an Arab woman in the international arena is what should make us proud of her, and our media, at least, should portray her academic and work accomplishments instead of her personal life.
There are a lot of Amals out there, who are working to make this world a better one, and one which accepts women in authoritative positions. To all of you great courageous women out there, even though the media won’t write about you unless you do something which is considered ‘immoral’ or ‘unacceptable’ or ‘scandalous’, you are still what gives the rest of us hope in reaching equality. THANK YOU.