Action! Girls Take Charge
Huge thanks to the Harvard Independent for such a great article about the Girls Impact the World Film Festival! Action! Girls Take Charge
Students, share your stories about advancing women and girls globally and win over $20K in prizes!!! www.connecther.org/gitw
We love to meet men who are passionate about issues related to advancing women and girls globally. We caught up with Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki from the UAE, who was kind enough to chat with us and share some of his thoughts about passion for life, family and things that matter. He is an official sponsor for the Girls Impact the World Film Festival 2013. We hope you enjoy his vibrant and genuine personality…
1. What sparked your interest in writing, film and the arts? Is it common for young Emirati men and/or women to pursue this field?
I guess it would have to be my travels that sparked my interest in the arts. I have always felt that you can truly understand cultures through artistic expression. Another thing is my wild imagination that I had when I was a child and still do even today. It is through arts that I can channel my imagination into reality.
2. You have said that your mother is your biggest role model. Can you expand on that and share some of the qualities of your mother?
My mother is a tough and gentle woman who has been through a lot of life experiences. She is well-loved and well-respected by many people around the world. Ever since my father passed away over 20 years ago, it was my mother who took care of my 4 older sisters and myself as well as running and expanding the family business that my father left behind. I owe everything that I am today to her.
3. You have recently published a new book. Tell us about that experience and what aspiring young Emirati writers can learn from your experience.
I have been writing for over 5 years. I started out by writing down ideas that flowed easily and more and more ideas kept pouring out of my head. As time went by these ideas have evolved into witty remarks, aphorisms and bite-sized wisdoms. I tried many times to get my book published and with each attempt I learned more. My persistence paid off on the 21st of November 2012 when I launched my first official book “Leave the Birds Alone” which is a collection of my thoughts on the many things we deal with in daily life. This book is both funny and enlightening.
4. We would love to know what social issues you are most passionate about. How do you manage to run a business and stay so involved with social initiatives that are close to your heart?
I am passionate about many social issues such as the behavior of young people, the way different cultures react to each other and the entertainment of today. I used to be a columnist for Gulf Today (Sharjah based newspaper in the UAE) and every week I wrote about social topics, often in a bit of a satirical manner with elements of critical thinking. A lot of people ask me how I multi-task between work, artistic endeavors and social interaction and I just tell them I drink lots of coffee.
5. You have traveled extensively. Please list your favorite places to visit and expand on a travel experience that has had a tremendous impact on you.
London is one of the places that I have traveled to the most. I tend to think of it as a bridge between East and West, a place where I get exposed to various cultural and intellectual stimulus. I also like visiting Amsterdam and Barcelona where I frequent parks, museums and other places. I have also traveled to Italy, France, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and many more. In fact, there are still many places I haven’t yet been, so that will be part of my agenda for the coming years.
6. Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?
None at the moment, I just like keeping my element of surprise.
1/23/2013 Posted by Lila Igram
Show in Film what YOU can do to Change the Story!
High school and undergraduate students submit your 3-5 minute short films that address global women’s issues such as: education for girls, maternal health, violence against women and girls and a variety of other issues.
Girls Impact the World ( www.connecther.org/gitw ), a Film Festival co-produced by Connecther.org and the Harvard College Social Innovation Collaborative is a great way for high school and college students to get their ideas in front of some very accomplished, high profile judges such as: Jeff Skoll (Founder, Skoll Foundation), Christy Turlington (Founder, Every Mother Counts), Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Laureate & Founder of Grameen Bank), Jean Oelwang (CEO of Virgin Unite), Zainab Salbi (Founder of Women for Women), Professor Robb Moss (Harvard Filmmaking Professor), Pat Mitchell (Paley Center, producer of TedxWomen) and Maria Eitel (CEO Nike Foundation). Also, students win great prizes!
For Immediate Release
Connecther Launches Novel Match Payments for Nonprofits Partners
Austin, Texas—-August 8, 2012—-Connecther.org, a website that connects donors with pre-screened non-profit partners that provide poverty alleviation services to women and children worldwide, announced the addition of a novel “match payment” funding capability to their platform (www.connecther.org). Match payments allow Connecther’s non-profit partners the opportunity to double their money when other donors choose to match a donation. Connecther is one of the first to offer “automated match payment” capability in the online crowd-funding space.
“With the new match payment functionality, we believe donors will get the satisfaction of knowing that their donation has been given with the fullest possible impact,” said Connecther founder Lila Igram. “With this new feature, our donors can double their impact in helping women and girls around the world become more self-reliant.”
To learn more about Connecther’s match payment capabilities please visit us at: http://www.connecther.org/donate/matching
Connecther (www.connecther.org) launched in the fall of 2011 as a global communication and fund raising platform, focused on advancing women and children in poverty in their quest for self reliance. Connecther’s collective giving platform pre-screens 501c3 partners and their projects that provide poverty alleviation services to women and children throughout the world.
Connecther’s founder, Lila Igram, has long had a vision for aiding women in this quest by utilizing social networks for global good. The Connecther platform was specifically developed to use social networks to maximize giving and to create the greatest social impact for women and children in need. With so much despair in the world, our goal is to give hope to and collectively work to make a difference in the lives of as many women and children in need as possible.
It was a thrill to hear Molly Melching of Tostan at the Women in the World Summit 2012. It was great to see someone so strong and humble at the same time. Molly was on a panel with one of her colleague’s, Demba Diawara, an Imam (A Muslim spiritual leader) from Senegal who has been influential in helping to eradicate the practice of female genital cutting in Senegal. Although female genital cutting cuts across many different cultures and religions, this particular campaign to end female genital cutting was in a Muslim majority area of Senegal. Hearing Molly’s experience of teaching people about the terrible consequences of female genital cutting, to the Imam’s foresight to talk to other more knowledgeable Imams and other Muslim leaders about the practice kept the audience engaged. It turned out that when Imam Demba spoke to more knowledgeable Muslim leaders about the practice of female genital cutting, it became clear that the practice has nothing to do with Islam, it is a cultural custom that has been practiced by their culture for generations. Because Islam is so central to the lives of these communities in Senegal, once the Imam found out that the practice was not Islamic and that it was harmful to girls, he immediately set out to talk to every family member and every leader about eradicating this harmful practice. One of the things Imam Demba happily recollects is that his niece Belo called him a hero for fighting for the rights of the girls in their village and country. Because of Tostan and Imam Demba’s foresight and action plan, 1000’s of villages in Senegal have abandoned the practice of female genital cutting through public declarations. They are also training the younger generation of Imams to follow in these footsteps. The government of Senegal has taken on the eradication of female genital cutting as a national action plan and over 50,000 villages have already abandoned the practice. With the support of the government of Senegal, Molly and Imam Demba believe that by 2015 the country of Senegal will have ended the practice completely.
Cultural consequences for women range widely. For example, in the West, gender discrimination exists where women are consistently paid less for the same job a man does. As women rise into higher level positions, the “air gets thinner” and women typically hold less than a third of the top executive and board-level positions. It is also widely recognized that in households where both spouses work equally, most of the housework is left to be done by women. Overtly sexualized images of women in the West have social repercussions that are inhibiting both girls and boys in the West. In other cultures or societies, women can be very marginalized. Culture also many times gets intertwined with religion creating a thick fabric that is hard to unravel. It has been very beneficial to work with Imam Umer Esmail, a Muslim spiritual leader and promoter of women’s rights in Austin, TX. Imam Umer who has three daughters has been a huge supporter of women’s rights. On Fridays, a religious day for Muslims where Imam Umer gives a Friday sermon, he frequently speaks to the mostly male congregation on the topic of women’s rights and respect for women in hopes that the attendees leave with a renewed and enhanced understanding, appreciation and value for women. This grassroots, educational approach is key to educate people about injustices against women globally and inspire the community to appreciate and really see and hear women on all levels. There are many challenges in Muslim majority countries regarding the marginalization of women that are cultural in nature. When people are educated and learn that religion is not a factor in these oppressions, they will change, just like the case of Demba Diawara, the Imam from Senegal who was influential in eradicating the practice of female genital cutting by learning it had nothing to do with religious obligations. I think Imam Demba said it best when he said, “intelligence is the only thing that can help you be successful in ending such a tradition”. Watch this amazing video called “Toppling Tradition” (scroll down to the 31st video) to find out how Imam Demba went from a supporter of female genital cutting to fighting to eradicate the practice altogether.
Support projects helping women in developing communities become self-reliant by going to www.connecther.org
Post by Lila Igram
“In the 1990s, nearly half of all peace agreements failed within the first five years, according to the Human Security Report Project. These deals are generally struck by a small number of male military and political leaders shielded from war’s impact on daily life. Women, meanwhile, endure much of the residual violence and poverty caused by armed conflicts, and they bear much of the burden of rebuilding families and communities. They are often excluded, however, from both the negotiating table and the governments charged with sustaining peace. Less than 8 percent of the hundreds of peace treaties signed in the last 20 years were negotiated by delegations that included women, and according to the World Economic Forum, women hold less than 20 percent of all national decision-making positions.”Read full article here.
It’s the most difficult thing to inspire someone. I have seen several very accomplished people speak, most of the time, I learn a lot, but cannot say I get inspired very often. Inspiration moves someone to change their way of thinking/being. When I heard Meryl Streep’s tribute to Hillary Clinton, I felt inspired. I now think of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a very new way – as a change-maker, a leader of the highest integrity, someone who puts herself on the firing line every day because she cares so deeply about others. Being at the Women in the World Summit 2012 had many highlights, here is one: Watch Meryl’s tribute to Hillary here.
Posted by Lila Igram