The International Feminisms Festival was initiated by the Joumana Haddad Freedoms Center in 2019, and is co-organized yearly by the Center and the French Institute in Lebanon, in partnership with a group of local and international organizations, such as the Arab Woman Institute at LAU, the Political Science institute at USJ, Fe-male NGO, Lebanon Support Research Center and the Canadian Embassy. The Festival is an unprecedented event in the Middle East, entirely dedicated to the history and developments of feminism, and to the several issues and challenges that women are facing today worldwide. It aims to prolong the engagement of Arab women on the long term, especially as the latter have become louder and more visible thanks to their role in the revolutions and on online platforms The festival lasts three days, mixing round tables, conferences, artistic expressions and workshops on the subject of feminism(s) in the Arab world and beyond. It engages feminists and scholars from many Arab nationalities, but also from the Western world, to enrich the exchange and feed the debate. It also engages civil society actors, media personalities, lawyers and artists, as well as academia. The festival holds activities in and outside Beirut, particularly in areas that are not necessarily feminist-sensitive. In the 2020 edition, two events were held outside of Beirut, one in Tripoli and another in Tyre. More locations are scheduled for the coming edition.
There are several objectives to the International Feminisms Festival: To advance the equality agenda in Lebanon and Arab countries; reconcile people in general, but young people in particular, with the humanist principle of feminism, which unfortunately has become a bad word for many; sensitize society to the injustices that the Lebanese (and Arab) women suffer; lobby for more laws that would improve the status of women; hinder the exploiters and carriers of the patriarchal system; gradually bring about a real local and regional feminist revolution.
Each edition of the festival will focus on a particular question influencing the situation of women. The first edition has been a general evaluation of the situation of feminism today, as an introduction to the later editions. It discussed the rich history and several forms of contestation that built the different feminist waves and re-examined the criticism of patriarchy. It also presented the diverse forms of feminist engagement today, whether political, economic, social or artistic.