Asmaa Guedira – Women’s Day
Asmaa Guedira is Womanity’s Be 100 Ragl’s Program Manager. As a Moroccan-French, free(lance) digital nomad, Asmaa creates synergies in the areas of gender, collaborative innovation and social entrepreneurship, between Europe, Brazil, the Middle East and Africa, mainly through writing, speaking, organizing, curating and facilitating conferences, retreats, and workshops.
Womanity: What brought you to Womanity and Be 100 Ragl?
Asmaa Guedira: I heard about Womanity from OuiShare, but I ended up applying for Be 100 Ragl separately, after I saw the job looking for the program manager posted on Facebook and fell in love with the description!
W: Can you tell us more about Be 100 Ragl?
AG: “Be 100 Ragl” is an edutainment program in Arabic, with 2 millions views, that aims to engage Middle East and North Africa (MENA) societies in an open and constructive debate on women’s rights and their role in society, by challenging stereotypes and offering a variety of perspectives, thus creating favorable attitudes and behaviors towards women’s advancement, all by means of entertainment.
The question at the heart of the program is: “How can we use the new tool we have and the digital consumption of MENA young urban people to impact their behaviors towards women and men’s role in society?”
W: What is video/animation doing that other medium can’t provide and what else has to complement it to make it effective?
AG: The animations are catching attention because they are an original and fun way to address complicated issues and topics that are more taboos in the region. It allows us to reach an audience that wouldn’t come to the live events and screenings we organize. A less educated and more conservative audience feels also more free to comment and react on social media, which sparks the debate online. Of course it needs moderation, and we have our social media wizards in the team to make sure the discussion stay constructive. The originality of the program is that we combine these online discussions with offline events with innovative and grassroots local communities, so they become ambassadors of the cause locally.
W: Who are the people you meet in your multiple trips in the MENA region? What are their aspirations and challenges?
AG: I meet a mix of change makers in the tech and startup world, social entrepreneurs, NGOs and independent gender activists. I make a point of always diversifying the sectors and contacts because my main expertise and interest is to build bridges between people and organizations that are not used to collaborate. I take that from my experience with decentralized and open source networks and project (OuiShare, Ouishare Fest, POC21, Open State, Enspiral, etc.) These people want to change the world around them, within a reality that is complex and difficult, which is very powerful to watch and be part of.
W: What are you learning from them?
AG: I am learning resilience and adding layers of complexity to my identity [laughters]; I just feel so energized when I meet people from my region, passionate about changing their environment and societies, while facing and living so many challenges.
W: As a woman, what do you think is the impact of your program in the lives of women and what have your learnt from it that you are applying to your life?
AG: I think the program I am working on answers a real need locally. Women’s role in society is becoming more and more addressed in MENA, mainly through the economic empowerment of women.
It’s a good entry point for us to start the conversation, as we are using new media, innovation and entertainment as a way to address other topics that are not discussed, like sexual violence and harassment, or the place of women in politics. In addition to raising awareness, we actually try to engage people in actions in their daily life and follow-up.
What I have been learning this year is to deconstruct my stereotypes about feminism in the Arab world and what being a feminist means.
I learned a lot more about my own culture and identity by being confronted to many other similar-but-different environments. By being publicly and actively speaking about these topics and building conversations around them, I learned to build and assume my personality in my inner circle, with my family in Morocco for example.
You cannot preach the change and not apply it to yourself!
W: When you are not working on this program, what do you dedicate yourself to?
AG: My Hyper-Gender project – I want to build a multimedia platform and movement to explore and reconstruct gender identity and relationships without stereotypes and beyond labels.
And working more on the future of work and collaborative practices enabled by digital technologies, design thinking, etc. to convert the civil society sector to this culture and mindset, in the Middle East and Africa.