Growing up in Libya, an Arab country in North Africa, the concept of fighting for women’s rights was never introduced to me. I was always taught that men and women have their own specific roles in society, and if society places men at a level of superiority over women, then we cannot do anything about it as it is our culture and we must simply accept it. In fact, the term “feminism” has no literal translation into the Arabic language, which should demonstrate to you how much the fight for women’s and human rights is dismissed in most Arab countries.
When I came to the United States in 2016 at the young age of 13, I was exposed to cultural norms that allowed women to rise above society’s gender norms in order to create a more equitable space for women. At the time, I thought that the U.S. lived in a close-to-perfect society where women have access to the same opportunities as men, but with time I came to realize that this is not the case.
When I heard about Women of Toledo during my second year at the University of Toledo, I was intrigued to learn about the work they do but became even more enthusiastic when I heard about an opportunity to work with them! Some of the projects I worked on at Women of Toledo included helping with the Multicultural Twilight Market, Women’s Equality Day, and Girls Hub.
I must say that I didn’t truly grasp the significance of these programs until I saw their results come to fruition, but witnessing the impact of these projects on our Toledo community made me realize the importance of having Women of Toledo in our community.
Seeing the fearless, amazing team at Women of Toledo work on these projects and put their heart and soul into each part of these projects was absolutely inspiring. I am grateful for the mentorship from Nina Corder and Sierra Ortiz. Without a doubt, I can confidently say, that they are two of the most inspirational, strongest women leaders I have met, and I hope to use what they taught me in my future endeavors.
Thank you Women of Toledo.