I was grateful to be able to represent SAHR as a Trust Women Scholar at the Trust Women Conference 2016. Nishma and I met such a diverse group of people and were able to connect with many over the few minutes we could grab at break and over lunch. Personally, I love meeting people and learning about their lives, inspiration and work. I get energy from those who create and live their vision and so many at the conference were visionaries who lead by example.
I was most inspired by Salman a transgender activist who spoke about his experience for the first time. His courage is incredible. His message: be kind, we are all humans, learn not judge. I was impressed by the women working at the frontlines to combat radical groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria and extremism at the Afg-Pak border. Their work is as dangerous as it is important - that showed me how far people go to take a stand against violence. Personally, I fear that radicalisation from the west also needs to be addressed - such as drone wars, sexual objectification and commercialisation of women, Islamophobia and gun violence. We need to clamp down on all forms of radicalism, not just ones coming from Muslim states.
On the panel on women entrepreneurs, I could connect to the message shared by African women entrepreneurs @ She Leads Africa. We don't have to copy and paste from western initiatives. We can do things the "African way". For me, I feel the same way about women's rights. The more diversity to the definition, the closer we get to meaningful change. That is what SAHR also stands for.
I also met some sassy activists, my definition of activists with sway and style! They are challenging taboos around menstruation, sexuality, modesty, honour and shame. And they speak with the voice of the millennials and are truly connecting with this generation.
I was really excited to be filming with Cincera Productions and 3/5 of the SAHR Board, Nishma and Anna. We have been working with each other virtually for many many many years. It is amazing how much work we get done without an official office. But it also means I don't always get a chance to interact with the team (which is also part of the fun!), creating together, visioning together and doing things together. In fact, this is the first time Nish and I have worked together in person at the Conference that it dawned upon me "this is what it feels like to work with Nish in reality!" It is already so great working through whats app, google docs and Skype. We are very proactive so we get things done. But there is something about the personal touch!.
At the film set, I got to also play "talk show host" and ask the ladies questions about what it was that made them feel they wanted to dedicate their lives to women's rights, why they chose to do that through SAHR, and also personal anecdotes which were turning point in their lives. Sometimes mundane things like "If you were on a deserted island and could take only 3 things, what would it be?" -- can be very revealing. From family photos to chocolates and books, you get a glimpse of what is important! Anna said being on the set was like a dream. And yes it was. That's the power of sharing, creating and being true to yourself and your vision.