On February 25, 2013, Dr. Sallama Shaker visited Quinnipiac University. She is a Yale visiting Professor of Middle East and Islamic Studies. Shaker received her PhD in 1993 from John’s Hopkins and the Long School of Economics/Malta University, where she has been publishing relating to issues of peace and development. She was the first woman to be Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Americans as well as Egypt’s Ambassador to Canada for four years.
To start off the visit, Shaker told us a little about herself. One thing that stuck out to me was that she mentioned her role model was Helen Keller. Believing that education is empowerment, things can thus be achieved. Shaker believed that since Helen Keller was able to reach out to Egypt, so could she.
The idea of education is very important in our society, especially with President Bush’s installment of “No Child Left Behind Act”. Those who are educated are separated from those who are not—socially and economically. People are also drawn to the way people speak. Are they speaking properly? Do they use slang? These are all characteristics we pay attention to when we first meet people and can be a direct result of one’s education. Shaker asked a very thought provoking question—why is education the magic touch?
If someone can complete a job just as adequately as someone else without their bachelor’s degree, why are they then set apart? All over the world people, especially women are deprived of being educated. It made me realize that know education is important, but we never really stop to consider it.
“Women rights are human rights and they must be acknowledged. It takes two to tango.”
All over the world women are deprived of the same rights as men. This can be a direct factor of their religion. Shaker mentions religion and how to transform thoughts from the Quran to men and women as the Muslims hold it very close to their hearts. Thoughts and faiths vary greatly among very many people and sometimes it is hard to accept or understand why.
Throughout Shaker’s speech, I kept thinking about our South Africa class and the connections being made. First, she mentioned discrimination against women existing and this reminded me of the blacks in South Africa during apartheid. Both women and the blacks are not granted the same rights especially in relation to their education. For instance, the blacks believed that whites were trying to stunt their education, which thus resulted in the Soweto uprising. Women exhibited similar characteristics of this. Shaker mentions that CNN reported that we realize women crossed the barrier of fear to be in demonstrations to fight for freedom, dignity, and social justice. This goes to show how in comparison to the blacks, the women are also fighting for their rights and equality in the Middle East.
My appreciation for my education has greatly grown since hearing this lecture. I have never had any worries about my education. From day one of kindergarten, I never had to worry about where I would be able to continue on, it was just always there. I have taken my education for granted in so many ways. From the teachers to the technological devices my schools have had, I have been nothing but lucky growing up. However, in our South Africa class we also discuss how important it is to be aware and acknowledged of what is going on in the world. If we are informed of some people’s religions or customs, it can allow us to gather a deeper understanding for why some people do things the way they do. I think it is important to be informed and I know this is something I need to improve on. I never read the newspaper, however, after hearing from Shaker I believe it is time to start expanding my horizons and reading more about international news in order to stay updated and informed—for education is empowerment.