Empowering women has many dimensions and components. One component is for the women to know, in an in-depth way, the history of the women's movement in their country and their region.

The Gibran Chair's Women as Partners in Progress (WPP) project set to film a documentary on the early Arab women's movement and eight of the pioneering women behind it. Thus a short 26-minute documentary— or what is known in many Arab Francophone countries as a court metrage, began production with the objective of creating a documentary about the women's movement in the Arab World to increase women's knowledge about the history and power of this movement in July of 2019. The documentary was given the title: تَجَرّأن "They Dared"


The documentary focuses geographically on four Arab countries: Egypt and Lebanon, two countries that represent the strong beginnings of the movement; and Morocco and Jordan, two countries from the WPP project. 

Top (L to R): Huda Sha'rawi, May Ziadeh, Malika al Fassi, Inaam al Mufti
Bottom (L to R): Samira Moussa, Fatima Mernissi, Laur Moghaizel, Leila Sharaf


The selection of the eight pioneers represented in "They Dared" (2019) was done by the WPP Team at the Gibran Chair at the University of Maryland. Those pioneers are:

  •      Egypt: Huda Sha'rawi and Samira Moussa
  •      Lebanon: May Ziadeh and Laure Moghaizel
  •      Morocco: Malika Al Fassi and Fatima Mernissi
  •      Jordan: Inaam Mufti and Leila Sharaf

The approach was discussed and it was agreed that in addition to using the archives regarding documents and photos, women leaders from each country will be interviewed to discuss the impact these important pioneers had.


"They Dared" is based on the Pioneers and Leaders Hub and Knowledge Center about Arab Women, a resource produced by the WPP project earlier this year.


The documentary was filmed by Moroccan film-maker Khaoula Assebab Benomar using the information on these eight pioneers that is available on the Hub. Khaoula also oriented the film by the vision, mission, and objectives of the Hub alongside Gibran Chair Director and Director of the WPP project May Rihani who to contributed the short film by providing insight into the lives of each of the women pioneers and selecting interviewees to speak about them.


Production on the documentary began in July of 2019 and concluded in August 2019. The documentary was premiered at the WPP Final Conference in Jordan on August 28, 2019.



Khaoula Benomar