Lifestyle Header image article main 15 arab female entrepreneurs share their striking thoughts about women empowerment

| by The Fustany Team

15 Arab Female Entrepreneurs Share Their Striking Thoughts on Women Empowerment!

What would International Women's Day be without a little inspiration from females who are changing the world? With the rise of women-led business in the Arab world, against all odds, more and more girl bosses are taking responsibilities into their own hands, and "women empowerment" has become a hot topic for discussion.

We took notice, and that's why we reached out to 15 successful Arab women entrepreneurs, to share their powerful thoughts on leadership and women empowerment. Read on to get totally inspired by the voices of achieving women who are shaking up the Middle Eastern entrepreneurial scene.

1. Dana Abdelhadi - Managing Partner at Expose Communications

The top qualities any women should have to lead and be empowered...
- Emotions; to think and make rational business minded decisions like a human not a machine.
- Passion; love and enjoy every moment of your job, and your team will follow in your footsteps and feel the same way.
- Efficiency; a gift every women has over a man is the ability to multi task. Empowered women are efficient and are able to use their resources and time wisely. Being a new working mother in a competitive industry, you realize how much more you can do with your time, you manage to squeeze even more in your day without compromising your quality of work or your family.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
Most women feel the need to justify their emotions and their uncontrollable feelings in the workplace, however, a leader would know to use these natural female qualities to her advantage and make a difference in her industry, society and company.

2. Dina Abdul Majeed - Founder of 360Moms

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered...
Confidence, clear vision, and perseverance.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
The most important thing would be that women have to really believe in themselves; that they can reach positions, goals, and businesses same as any man, if not more. I believe that women are so powerful that nothing can get in their way, but they need to keep on going and keep on believing.

3. Esra'a Al Shafei - Founder of Majal.org

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered...
Any woman who wishes to lead does not need permission to do so. All we need is willingness, persistence, patience and the stomach to manage resistance.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
It's imperative that first and foremost we support each other to succeed in various fields, and to overcome any societal or legal obstacles that prevent us from reaching leadership positions and goals. We must create alternative inroads and opportunities with each other's partnership and support.

4. Fatma AlMulla - Founder of FMM

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered...
A leader should be confident, brave, hopeful and most of all have a positive outlook on life.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
It's by working harder; proving to the world that Arab women can do it all. Supporting each other emotionally and physically too.

5. Ingy Ismail - Founder and CEO of Flare PR

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered...
Self confidence, determination, flexibility and to be able to think out of the box, and therefore dare to experiment. Last but not least, she should have the ability to give back, to mentor and lead others.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
With determination and a clear vision of what she wants to achieve and with respect to the other gender where respect is due. Through being an example, she should try to change the old perspectives gradually and be firm in her intentions. Other women will follow her path and as the saying goes – the union makes the force.

6. Joy Ajlouny - Co-founder of Fetchr

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered...
Dedication, determination and not taking no for an answer. Being relentless is my biggest key to success.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
Women can fight gender discrimination within Arab society by not using their looks to get a ahead, but by being truly confident and secure with who they are and conducting themselves like a business person.

7. Louise Doumet - Co-founder of Lebelik.com

 

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered...
Dedication, love to what they do, appreciation for those around them, a good ear to listen to advice, a wise mind to only follow the good one, a warm tongue to criticize in private and praise in public, an open mind to learn from the younger, a long stamina for the long days coming ahead and a little bit of luck.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
They shouldn't fight it. This is not a fight with winners and losers. It is just a mentality that has to evolve. I think women should treat men and anyone in general the way they want to be treated. I don't believe in women-only associations. I think that women should start by imposing on themselves first the behaviors they would like to see replicated by men.

So, hire the best person for a position irrespective or their sex, pay them the same salary, give them the same education and the same rights. I think this job starts at home where mothers encourage their daughters to get the same education she wishes for her son, where the brother treats his sister with respect and love and where fathers embraces his partner's success and feels proud of her and never destabilized by it. I wish we didn't have to fights for these but rather work together for it.

8 & 9. Rania Rafie & Yara Yassin - Co-founders of Up-fuse

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered...
Any woman should listen to her instincts of creation. All women everywhere are made to create and recreate. Listen to your instincts, don't let the society fool you. Don't think that your life is made of checkpoints that you need to successfully reach to become a good woman.

Life is super amazing, full of opportunities and self exploring, so don't limit your sights to be a woman when you just want to be a girl. Don't fear you weakness, everything has a weakness, just embrace them or live with them. Your gentiles are not you! Learn, learn, learn! You will love yourself when you explore how smart your brain is!

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
In Up-fuse, we treated this topic differently. We ignored the fact that Arab societies are discriminating. We acted like human beings who want to achieve a goal. Resilience, persistence, passion and sometimes failure, we obliged everyone to respect our will. We believe that when the society succeeds in transmitting this illness of discrimination in a woman's head, she would really get weak and fragile, which ends up with her fighting the nothing. Because discrimination is a non-existing thing!

We work daily with men who are sometimes 40 years older than us. The most successful method to deal with those very close minded old men is to believe that "I am the boss, and I am the decision maker, and you are part of my team who has all the respect and love." It's simple. We just blame our mothers and grandmothers who obliged us to be treated like a second category citizen or an obeying machine. They have failed big time. But we still have forever to enjoy our women-hood in the right way.

10. Riham Mahafzah - Founder and CEO of Silkroad Images

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered...
The Arab woman should strongly believe in herself and her capabilities first...whether educated or with years of work experience. A mother, housewife or a teen at school she should believe that she is capable of making her dreams a reality. Arab women are smart, strong and brave with a bit of surrounding support, so she can excel and succeed in any field she finds her real self in.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
I do not really find this issue is obviously noticeable. As I took the decision to start my own business 5 years ago till today, the challenges I faced are the same as any entrepreneur whether a man or a woman. Discrimination can be a state of mind, it would be up to me to fall a victim or face it and stand tall.

11. Sally Sarieddine - Founder of LaLaQueen

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered...
A woman leader needs to keep learning, and to empower others. A woman in a leadership position needs to be goal oriented, innovative, and resilient. She must set high expectations, plan, delegate and enable others. She needs to be aware of the cultural needs and differences, .and finally we all need to embrace mother-nature with respect and fidelity.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
It is obvious that sometimes there is discrimination at work related to expectation and culture, but an intelligent woman can prove herself by getting quality education, have confidence and a strong will, and also be a critical thinker. She needs to put great efforts, to be resilient and focused. The world is changing and the digital competences do not relate to gender any more, as no physical efforts are required.

12. Sarah Beydoun - Founder and Creative Director of Sarah's Bag

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered...
One should never underestimate the power of inspiration; for a woman to lead she should inspire the people she works with and be inspired in return. To be successful and lead by example, there has to be a purpose to what you do beyond profit. For me, it’s the fact that we are a social enterprise as well as a fashion house on a mission to empower underprivileged women in Lebanon that gives purpose and a deeper meaning to what I do. It also gives me the strength to keep going when things are tough, as they often are when you are trying to run a business in an unstable country like Lebanon.

It is also important to be passionate about what you do. Sarah’s Bag combines three elements I am passionate about: fashion and design, running a social enterprise, and reviving and re-imagining traditional Middle Eastern handicrafts through our designs.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
The first step is giving girls access to quality education. I strongly believe it starts with teaching them to aim high from an early age, to make them believe they can achieve as much as a man can and that the world is big enough for their dreams. This would give them the confidence and determination to advance in life and see themselves as equal partners who have a say in their country’s future. 

I also believe that we cannot move forward without changing laws that discriminate against women. In Lebanon, we have personal status laws that represent the different religious sects recognized by the Lebanese state but some of these laws don’t guarantee women basic rights. Lebanese women cannot give their nationality to their children; there is no unified civil code that gives all Lebanese women equal rights and protects them when it comes to domestic violence, sexual violence, divorce, child custody, and property rights. The legal infrastructure is essential to women’s advancement in the Arab world. And yet despite this, I am so heartened by everything Arab women have achieved regardless of the social, political and legal obstacles that (try) to stand in their way!  

13. Sofana Dahlan - President and Founder of Tashkeil, and Founder of Kayan Studio

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered...
Resilience.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?  
Drop the gender!

14. Yasmine El-Mehairy - Founder of Coushies

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered…
In order to be able to lead and be empowered, I think a woman should be experimental, risk taker, empathetic and not afraid to use her voice. Once a leader has those qualities, and has the right ethical and moral standards, she will easily be followed, and at that point, it will become her responsibility to make her followers feel empowered. It’s important to realize that leadership is a blessing, but also a responsibility towards her followers.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
I think the first step towards fighting discrimination, is to embrace the female identity and be proud of yourself and what you have achieved and can do. Sadly, I see a lot of women fighting the discrimination by becoming the exact female copies of their nemesis, essentially becoming men in skirts.

Another step is to stand up to your rights tactfully, without being rude or vulgar, otherwise you make it worse. That's in addition to supporting and empowering other women. I’m sure you’ve all heard women complain about female-bosses or other incorrect stereotypes. I’m against accepting these words, and I make it my personal duty to debunk these myths whenever I get a chance. We, women, tend to make things harder for each other, so we really need to stop and support each other.

Finally, we need more role models, someone for the younger generation to look up to. To fight discrimination, we need to be those role models, and here’s the part where Fustany.com and other cool publications can help…push the role models forward!

15. Yasmin Helal - Founder of Educate Me

The top qualities any woman should have to lead and be empowered...
The qualities I believe are important for women in leadership (and women in general) are: authenticity, self efficacy and acceptance; being aware of and true to who you are, being comfortable in your own skin, appreciating your strengths and acknowledging your shortcomings.

Also, being conscious of the different roles you play, and accepting that you can't have it all at a time, but can have a lot over a lifetime through juggling different balls at different phases.

How can women fight gender discrimination within the Arab society?
I usually prefer adopting the term "equity to women," as I believe women should be treated fairly not similar or different to men. The ecosystem, represented by laws and regulations and also culture, should ensure women are accommodated and protected, so we can leverage their power. I also believe we need to start asking for specifics that would ensure equity to women as opposed to simply objecting what's out there and creating campaigns out of jargon that doesn't serve anyone.

Women empowerment slogans and initiatives have been there for decades yet the desired impact is still too far from being reached and perhaps what we need is clarity and specificity.




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