In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to highlight some Middle Eastern women who’ve greatly inspired me. Although women of all backgrounds are deserving of praise and recognition, these were and are the women who rose to great heights despite the cultural reinforcements of patriarchy and misogyny. The Middle Eastern woman is an especially brave and unique individual for this. In a system and in a culture wherein women are constrained to their homes, these women broke free and lived their craft. And for their trials and tribulations, myself and my sisters are forever thankful.
I fangirl this icon so hard. Literally CANNOT wait to see her live in May! Faegheh Atashin is an Azeri-Iranian singer and actress, who has recorded songs in Dari, Fari, Turkish, Arabic, English, French, Tajiki, Italian, and Spanish. One of the most iconic singers of all time, Googoosh is like the 2pac of the Middle-East , except she’s not dead. Still though, even during her 20 year forced-silence by the Iranian regime, Googoosh’s fan base grew rapidly. Googoosh’s melodic voice served as an inspiration and as a reminder of the once thriving secular nation Iran and Afghanistan once were.
SORAYA TARZI, AFGHAN:
Slayyyyy Queen, slayyyy. Our Royal Highness, Queen Soraya Tarzi of Afghanistan was one of the oat powerful and badass HBIC’s of all time. Born in Damasuc to an Afghan intellectual, Queen Soraya was known for instigating social, economic, and educational reforms for her sistas. She was the first Muslim consort to appear in public with her husband UNVEILED, and even rode along with him during hunting parties and at Cabinet meetings. Now, I’m all for the veil if it’s a choice. But in a nation like Afghanistan, Queen Soraya had some huevos to pull the badass moves she did. BOW DOWN.
LEILA KHALED, PALESTINIAN-LEBANESE:
Resistance is NOT terrorism. This woman lives and breathes fighting the Israeli occupation of her nation. I don’t think I’ve ever read up on a woman more dedicated to the fight for her people’s freedom. Leila Khaled is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the first female to hijack an airplane. She was born in Haifa, Mandatory Palestine to Lebanese parents. Her family was forced to flee Lebanon, as part of the 1948 Palestinian exodus, leaving her father behind. At 15, she joined the pan-Arab Arab Nationalist Movement, which later became the PFLP.
On August 29, 1969, Khaled was part of a team that hijacked a plane on its way from Rome to Athens, diverting the Boeing 707 to Damascus, based on information that Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yitzhak Rabin would be on board.. She claims she ordered the pilot to fly over Haifa, so she could see her birthplace.
SAFIA TARZI, AFGHAN:
I found this beauty one random night searching Afghan 1960’s fashion. In the 1969, a young Kabul based designer Safia Tarzi was the focus of Vogue magazine when they visited the country that year. Tarzi helped blur the lines between feminine and masculine and blended western and Oriental designs with enthusiasm, feminizing traditional turbans and waistcoats to match with modern western skirts stockings and boots. Would have been so awesome to see her fashion live on if Afghanistan wasn’t such a shit-show today.