'A woman's place is in the revolution,' is one of the most powerful quotes of resistance and a picture going viral from the Sudan protests seems to prove this point.
If you've been anywhere on the Internet in the last 24 hours, you have definitely seen it. A photo of a young Sudanese woman passionately chanting 'Thowra!' standing on top of a car, as multiple people point their phone screens up to record the moment is breaking the internet.
Thowra is Arabic for 'Revolution' and the woman, was leading the chants for an anti-government protest in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. The picture is slowly becoming a symbol for the role of women in the resistance movement. even a cursory glance at the image will tell you just why.
The photo, taken by Lana. H. Haroun, is acting as the tool for the start of an unprecedented conversation in Sudan.
Hala Al-Karib, a Sudanese women’s rights activist with the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa, hailed the photo as summing up the "moment we have been waiting for for the past 30 years.”
The woman in the photo was identified by some local media and Buzzfeed as 22-year-old Alaa Salah. With war-paint on her face, and dressed in the colors of the Sudanese flag, the woman quickly became an icon of the protest. Protesters present at the venue also captured videos which showed her leading the chant.
Don’t know her name, but this Woman in #Sudan is leading rallies, standing on car roofs, and pleading for change against autocratic Bashir.Here she is singing “Thawra” (Revolution). Remember this voice: pic.twitter.com/0JG31Tp4rZ— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) April 9, 2019
Apart from the war-paint and the chants, another aspect of the woman stood out - her outfit.
Her 'thobe', a cotton robe, is traditionally worn by professional Sudanese women in the workforce. The outfit is symbolic of the identity of a working woman: a Sudanese woman that’s capable of doing anything but still appreciates her culture.
A Twitter user broke down why this outfit in itself is also a powerful statement.
She's wearing a white tobe (outer garment) and gold moon earrings. The white tobe is worn by working women in offices and can be linked w/cotton (a major export of Sudan), so it represents women working as professionals in cities or in the agricultural sector in rural areas.— Hind Makki (@HindMakki) April 8, 2019
Her earrings are the gold moons of traditional bridal jewelry (Sudanese, like many Arabic speakers, often use moon-based metaphors to describe feminine beauty)— Hind Makki (@HindMakki) April 8, 2019
Her entire outfit is also a callback to the clothing worn by our mothers & grandmothers in the 60s, 70s, & 80s who dressed like this during while they marched the streets demonstrating against previous military dictatorships.— Hind Makki (@HindMakki) April 8, 2019
Sudanese everywhere are referring to female protestors as "Kandaka," which is the title given to the Nubian queens of ancient Sudan whose gift to their descendents is a legacy of empowered women who fight hard for their country and their rights. ✊🏾— Hind Makki (@HindMakki) April 8, 2019
The viral picture makes a powerful statement, but the woman in the photo certainly isn't alone: This revolution is largely being led by women.
Sudan has been seeing almost daily-demonstrations as part of its protest against Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir. And at the fore-front of this protest are the women of Sudan. An estimate even confirms that 70% of the protesters are female.
The repercussions of protest are the same: collision with security forces. Women are continuing to protest and hold demonstrations despite finding that security forces are specifically targeting women protesters.
"There is no amount of beating or detention that could make us stop."These women and many more like them, are leading the huge protests against Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir.#SudanProtests l #SudanUprising pic.twitter.com/CWBr45Nbhn— BBC News Africa (@BBCAfrica) April 6, 2019
It's estimated that women make up two-thirds of protestors in Sudan's current uprising. Here's some footage of the courageous women leading these protests this week.#SolidarityWithSudaneseWomen #Sudan_Uprising @5050oD https://t.co/Q8cJ9kGJos pic.twitter.com/JD61zAEHlL— Nandini (@nandi_naira) April 9, 2019
Haroun, who took the viral photograph revealed to CNN that she didn't have a camera. Like the sea of people holding up their screens, she too, just had a smartphone.
The woman on the top of the car, she added, “was representing all Sudanese women and girls, and she inspired every woman and girl at the sit-in.” “She was telling the story of Sudanese women,” Haroun said. “She was perfect.”
'The future is female', indeed.