Youth speakers shine light on refugee crisis, women's needs and personal choices at TEDxLAU 2016
TEDx events have always been an outlet for inspiration, innovation and exchange. This week, we bring you some highlights from youth speakers who earned their standing ovations at TEDxLAU, which took place Saturday at Beirut’s Lebanese American University (LAU) campus in its fourth annual edition to date.
On refugees and helping the lost Syrian generation
At a time when the Syrian refugee crisis has taken its toll on Lebanon’s economy and infrastructure, NGO volunteer Serene Dardari took to the stage to remind everyone of the human element that lies underneath, inviting the audience to get personal and actively participate in alleviating the crisis instead of being merely concerned with rising numbers and statistics. “Unless we stop viewing all the refugees, all the homeless people and the thousands cramped in defective slums all over Lebanon as a still image somewhere in the background behind all the skyscrapers, we will only be falling deeper onto a very dark and violent future,” she observed, after chronicling the heartbreaking stories of the refugee children she has worked with as a volunteer educator.
On the need for women to speak up against the stigma of the menstrual cycle
Young journalist Carine El Boustani hoped to raise awareness about endometriosis, a chronic medical condition affecting one in 10 women worldwide by which the uterus-lining tissue grows outside the uterus instead of remaining inside it, leading to severe pain in the pelvic area and ultimately resulting in internal bleeding, and transform her negative experience with the disease into a positive outlet for women empowerment. "It is by speaking up about a sensitive topic that I learned about a whole new world that I am a part of, I learned that I am not alone,” she explained, inviting women and men to fight the stigma associated with the menstrual cycle and the pain that comes along by speaking up and seeking medical help if symptoms persist, especially when chronic conditions like endometriosis are often misdiagnosed/mistreated by gynecologists or simply overlooked by patients for being erroneously considered a normal manifestation of period pain, thus leading to more and more complications.
On hijab and respecting women’s personal choices
Second-year medical student Narjes Jaafar who decided to take off her hijab a few months ago and fifth-year pharmacy student Sally Beydoun who finds herself in her hijab and views it as an essential part of her identity as a woman took to the stage jointly to give a powerful talk about personal choices and acceptance by sharing their respective personal stories with the hijab. Jaafar found liberation in taking off the veil yet struggled with society’s mixed reactions vis-à-vis her decision while Beydoun never thought being veiled could stand in the way of her self-expression and success. But despite their contradicting perspectives on the topic, the two delivered an inspiring message for young women worldwide. “Today, we fight for the choices that women must make. Accept my story, accept my choices, accept me,” the girls concluded.