Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Arab Expedition – the issue of women

This is a very strenuous time, I hardly get more than a few hours of sleep every night, plagued by thoughts of the past plus worries trying to get the puzzle together. It feels almost impossible to achieve just that. But, at the end, there will be an Expedition!
I have forgotten during these four years of inactivity all the enormous work involved getting an Expedition on its feet. And I am working on two at the same time, plus I have a third in the back of my head. Biggest worry of course is how to get the funding. Will potential sponsors understand the need of such an Expedition? Especially in these times of global economical worries? I have done a quick calculation on the costs and they´re more than double compared to the Siberia journey. Gee, I say….
But there´s also a lot of joy. Like slowly seeing the puzzle becoming a picture is fascinating and in some ways I think, putting together an Expedition, is like having a child born. But, I think most of all, the biggest joy, is all the people who are getting involved. Potential sponsors, regional experts, friends of the same trade and global big wigs. And, the growing interest amongst readers of my blog and fans who´ve followed me for many years. Unfortunately, or fortunately maybe, because one needs critics to stay objective, along with a growing interest you also get the back side of it, peoples jealousy and aggressive emails about your plans. I have been called a lot of things lately, everything from pro-Arab to an enemy of women. A frequent question is, how can you do an Expedition in an area of the world where women are treated like secondary human beings? What about the Honour Killings still going on, even in Western countries where you have Moslem populations? All these mails originate from Sweden…
Let me first of all assure you that I really love and appreciate women. Maybe too much, because it does make life more complicated in many instances, especially whilst needing to concentrate on getting the plans for he Expeditions together… I adore women. Secondly, yes I am pro-Arab in the sence that I think the way they live and think is of great importance to the future and to the well-being of our globe. And, to be able to understand the Arab world, like all things in life, to be able to fullfill my dream and wish, to build a bridge of understanding between their world and the west -well, even in between Arab countries a bridge is needed- the only way to understand the Arab world, is of course, one cannot hope to understand Arabia through the prism of western modernism. I have to understand it on Arab terms, in Arab time. And even though I have some experiences from the Moslem and Arab world (not the same thing, because for example, Indonesia is the biggest Moslem country -population wise-in the world), how can I give judgement, except happiness and joy which is always needed, until I really have experienced Arabia from within and understand all the intricacies involved? If there´s one thing in life I dislike, it is people giving judgement without knowing. This ignorance is, as I see it, one of the major obstacles to a much more peaceful world.

What then do I personally think about honor killings and the subject of women in the Arab world?

I will give you a complete answer once I return from the two Expeditions, when have a full picture, until then I just want to say, and this applies to all countries, cultures, tribes and walks of life on the globe, for me it is impossible to understand why women and men get treated differently. Once everybody understands that when everybody has the same value, possibilities and wages, society has developed a grand step forward, but, being a Swede, where we are supposed to have equality, there´s still…which is almost impossible to understand…..a difference in pay for the same work. How can this be?

My only concern, a very big one, for my upcoming Expeditions, is how am I going to get in touch with the Arab women? And how am I going to describe their thoughts and lives? This worries me a lot.

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