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“Your empowerment as a woman starts with you,” said Najwa Zebian, Lebanese Canadian author and poet, in a deeply personal and inspiring virtual discussion held at the 39th edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair. The author offered interesting perspectives on self-help, feeling pain and letting go, and why women need to find their voice to discover who they really are.

Channeling her painful experiences into profound words, Zebian, author of The Sparks of Phoenix, The Nectar of Pain and Mind Platter, gained international stardom for her compelling ability to peer into the depths of the human soul and her courage in sharing the truth about what it feels like to be human.

Speaking at the session titled, ‘How Literature Inspires the Empowerment of Women’ on the ‘Sharjah Reads’ global virtual platform, the author said, “Every individual’s story is different from those around them; even the boundaries they raise around them, be it religious or cultural. So, you need to look within and discover the voice aching to get out or fight against, to be yourself.”

“Very often, we hide certain parts of who we are or pretend to be someone we are not, just to be accepted into people’s lives. When we base our wellbeing on how others see us, we are willing to take scraps of what people throw at us. But the truth is, you deserve more. There is enormous power in recognising how you see yourself through other people’s eyes and making the conscious decision to say, I want to see myself through my own eyes,” she further said.

Najwa Zebian, who became a trailblazing voice for women following the publication of her first collection of poetry and prose in 2016, often writes of pain as a vehicle for transformation. One of her most popular lines in The Nectar of Pain, “These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb, has even been turned into tattoos”.

Sharing her perspective of pain, Zebian says, “We love anything that feels good but when it comes to pain, we want to ignore it, because acknowledging its presence suggests that you need to do something about it. Very often, taking the conscious decision to change your circumstance is the hardest decision to make for most people.”

“There is no strength in denying the pain,” says Najwa, who recited a poem for her audience from Nectar of Pain to encapsulate her thoughts on the subject: “When pain knocks on your door, let it in. Spend some time with it. Understand it. Then walk it to the door and let it leave because it’s time for you to welcome happiness.”