Chadia El Meouchi, Global Board Co-Chair, celebrates Margaret Atwood as part of Equality Now’s 30 for 30, featuring 30 women and changemakers who have played a key role in making equality reality as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations.
As an Arab woman from the Middle East, Margaret Atwood’s work means everything. Freedom, independence, and hope for another kind of society for women across the world.
I first discovered Margaret’s work some twenty years ago. I remember reading the Blind Assassin, one page after another a weekend. Since then, I have constantly searched for Margaret’s writings, plunging into the eye-opening universes she propels her readers into while inviting us to engage deeply with ourselves.
For decades, Margaret’s work has helped to facilitate conversations on the most challenging and pressing forms of oppression facing our world. The power of Margaret’s messages lies in their clarity and universality. What is most powerful about Margaret Atwood is that her work speaks to all, women, children, and men. The unwavering reach of the symbolism she is so reputed for gives me inspiration and hope. It also provides women around the world with a vessel to speak through and courage in their fight toward greater equality.
Today, Margaret is one of Equality Now’s dearest friends. As a global board member, I am grateful for how her activism has helped us strengthen our mission, connecting us to local groups working on the ground to legalize abortion in Argentina and to indigenous women’s groups in Canada pressing for environmental reform. The collaborations Equality Now has undertaken with her, including our partnership with Hulu and the launch of Margaret’s Booker-Prize-winning 2019 novel The Testaments, have helped to broaden the conversation around issues like female genital mutilation (FGM), women and girls’ access to education, and family and nationality laws.
Like many other areas of the world, the Middle East still suffers from fundamentalism when it comes to women, the overbearing role of theology on many aspects of our societies, and the deafening passivity about how society infringes upon women’s rights—from the smallest to largest details of our lives. Many women are afraid to speak because freedom of speech and expression remain a luxury in some parts of our world; it might mean the difference between acceptance and ostracization, between life and death.
Margaret is truly a freedom fighter. Her pages carry the plights of women struggling with injustice and inequality; her words are a messenger on behalf of those whose mouths remain sealed, whose voices are silent, whose hearts are in hiding, and whose bravery is still burgeoning. She represents hope for a better world, for my daughters and for me, and I admire her relentless courage, unrestrained vision and imagination, and her unapologetic quest for truth.
Margaret’s versatility knows no bounds, and neither does the impact of her legacy.