January 17


Women SenseTour In Muslim Countries – Interview With Sarah Zouak

By Bewildered in Morocco

January 17, 2015


laptop acer woman sense tour around the world sarak zouak facebook logo
Photo Credit Sarah Zouak
Bewildered in Morocco: Why “Women SenseTour”?
Sarah: Today, Muslim
women in western countries are facing stigmas because of the stereotypes surrounding Islam and more particularly the idea that they are oppressed
and submissive.People need more role models of great Muslim women and
understand that the discriminations faced by some Muslim women stem from the
patriarchy system, from men, from reinterpretation of the religion but never
from the religion! So I decided to go and meet Muslim women changemakers and spotlight how they are
driving girls’ andwomen’s empowerment. I didn’t want to make the portraits of
successful Muslim women or any Muslim women entrepreneurs. No, I wanted to meet
the one who are fighting for women’s rights in their countries. How can we
better break the stereotypes about Muslim women, than meeting those who are
activists and founders of projects about for women’s empowerment?

Thus, for 5 months, I’ve decided to travel, in 5 Muslim
countries, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Iran and Indonesia to meet 25 Muslim women
changemakers. The goal is to raise awareness on the situation of Muslim women
entrepreneurs, deconstruct stereotypes and, crucially, amplify Muslim women’s
voices through the filming of a field-based documentary featuring the women I
met and their creative initiatives.Besides the documentary video, I write
portraits of them, which are featured on my website and some media partners.
Because I didn’t want the journey to be only at a journalistic
perspective, I choose to add one more mission to my trip.  I decided to support those inspiring women
through the organization of creative brainstorming workshops designed tohelp
them overcome some specific challenges they face in their organization. To do
so, I will be applying the methodology of an international association called Makesense,
which promote social entrepreneurship.This has a real impact for the WST superwomen!
Bewdilered: What was the reason you started it, what pushed you to
organize this project?
S: It was the
perfect moment for me to realize this project for many reasons:

Perfect timing: I’ve
just been graduated from my two masters in Business School and International
Relations Institute in Paris and … I was not in a hurry to work at a desk
during 8 hours a day.

Meaningful cause
to work on:I’ve made all my professional experiences in non profit
organizations,because I couldn’t imagine my professional life without working
for a good cause or missions which makes sense for me and match with my values.Women’s
empowerment issue is the cause that thrilled me the most; I knew I wanted to
work on this topic! But so many questions came to my mind and I was always
interested about the variable of religion in women’s right.

A dream comes true:Today,
I have all the energy and passion to do what really matters to me.  The WST is a great mix of all my passions in
one project: women’s right cause, travels, sensitization about my religion to
create awareness and open minds and work with amazing people that I love. I’ve
decided to take few months to meet inspiring women all over the world and share
all those lessons I will learn with people living in France.
Bewildered: Can you briefly tell us, what are the stages of your
S: This year has
been really intense! I’ve had the idea of the WST in January 2014, while I was
still studying. I knew my project was really ambitious but I’ve done my best to
do it as professional as I could.
It takes me indeed
9 months to prepare the trip!
When your
project is clear in your mind, the most important thing is to be surrounded by
inspiring people who believe in your project. Today I can clearly said that
without the support of my family and my friends I would never have achieved the
WST. My closest friends became my team! Each one of them has specific skills
that I needed for my project. And each month one of them accompany me to one
country ;) I’m really luck to have them!
As you may know,
a trip like the WST has a cost… to finance the video equipment, the logistics, healthcare
or visas costs. This step was really hard but so much rewarding. I try to
diversify as much as possible my funds. I’ve created two crowd funding campaigns
and I got public subventions from my city and my department in France, from the
Sorbonne university, a restaurant in Paris called « La Fabrick des
Délices »,and a great organization called W4, Women’s Worldwide Web which
support projects on the field of women’s rights.
Then comes all
the research about the identification of all the great and inspiring women
change makers in those 5 countries and the communication. The latter is the
most important thing in a work of sensitization. With my team we put so much
efforts on that. Besides our great communication tools: video, website, social
media pages, we spend everyday a lot of time to inform people following our trip!
Last but no
least, logistics and formation in video took me time too ;)
Today, I’ve
already finished the two first steps of my trip; I’ve met 11 wonderful women in
Morocco and Tunisia and animated 6 creativity workshops. I’ve been in several
cities, the biggest one but also the small villages. I tried to have the most
plural and representative women of those countries. The WST Women are young or
older, highly educated or illiterate, wearing headscarves or not…
I’m actually in
Turkey, with my friend Clotilde :)
After the trip
and the edition of the video documentary, the idea is to present the film and different
portraits of Muslim women in different schools and organizations in France to
change minds and perceptions about Muslim women and to talk about social
entrepreneurship or religion in a feminine and feminist perspective.
Bewildered: What do you want to achieve?
S: I’m tired of
hearing negative remarks about Islam and about Muslim women. Living with stereotypes
about other cultures, other persons will never allow us to live in cohesion in
our societies. I want to live in a world where the difference will never be an
obstacle but instead a source of wealth.
I hope that the
WST project will change perceptions that people can have about Muslim women in
a positive way. I also want to inspire people! Those women are making incredible projects;
people need to see what are the beautiful projects made in other countries. I
also want to prove people that women’s empowerment is one of the most important
issues in the world and each one of us can make something about it!
Bewildered: Would you leave an inspiring message for readers of
Bewildered in Morocco?
S: If you want to hear inspiring message, you will have
to watch my documentary guys ;)
More seriously, I will always remember a quote that
one of the change makers I met told me in Morocco. « You have to work for
a bigger cause than yourself
Choose a cause, choose something that’s pissing you
off in the world, in your country or in your neighbourhood and transform it into
a beautiful and positive project where you will have a great impact and where
you will be happy. It takes a lot of times to realize what we want to do for a
living. It takes me years to understand that I didn’t want to follow the path I
was supposed to follow and do things more meaningful for me.
Then having the idea is never enough; you have to act!
Don’t take too much time; act everyday and try to improve your project. Get
support from people that inspire you and who believe in you and your cause.
Being surrounded by skilled people was the most important thing for me, because
even if you put all your energy to get things perfect, sometimes, you will have
doubts, you will be tired, sick, and angry and it’s thanks to the support of
the people you love that it will be ok. Listen critics but try to go beyond them
especially when it’s not constructive.
As human beings we have to make our societies better
than the day before so that we all learn how to live together despite our beliefs,
our origins, our ideas and have the choice to do what each of us want to do
without being judged. Some people will say that I’m naive or too much optimist.
I am of course, but I do everything to keep this positive energy on me because
this is how I function, how I have been raised. Being negative about everything
has never helped achieving anything…
laptop acer woman sense tour around the world sarak zouak facebook logo
Sarah speaking about WST during Pages
To support and follow WST, check Sarah’s fanpage. I keep my fingers crossed for WST and can’t wait to see the documentary!

Moroccan Women, Activists, and Gender Politics

from: RedShelf

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