In May, the Ubuntu Love Challenge set out to spark a global movement towards collaboration on projects for social good. Now, the same initiative has created a new online campaign – #StillSheRises – this time designed to amplify the voices of women.
#StillSheRises is part-video series and part-online challenge aimed at giving women around the world a platform to share their stories of success, as well as overcoming adversity and, in turn, empower others to take action in their respective fields and industries.
The Ubuntu Love Challenge, started by Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, president-elect of the International Publishers Association and founder of the #UbuntuLoveChallenge, and philanthropist Mamadou Toure, began sharing videos on its YouTube platform last month, and has been continuously adding to its list.
So far, the online video series includes 15 interviews with women of renown, from Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of social enterprise Acumen, to Iraqi activist and writer Zainab Salbi, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology, Sarah Al Amiri, and Anita Bhatia, UN Women’s executive director.
In her interview, Al Amiri, who is also chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, spoke about her experience with the country’s recent mission to Mars, including the challenge of putting together the endeavour within six years.
“The timeline, in comparison to the rest of the world, was four years less than everyone else,” she recalls. “The question I have in the back of my mind is how do we take all this experience and these challenges that we surpassed … and translate it into impact for the UAE and create new opportunities for other people?"
Salbi, founder of humanitarian organisation Women for Women International, shared her story of growing up in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war. Though her father served as Saddam Hussein’s personal pilot, Salbi and her family lived in fear of the Hussein family.
Her mother eventually sent her to the US at 19 years old, and to an arranged marriage. When the relationship turned abusive, Salbi ran away, but was unable to return to Iraq as the First Gulf War had broken out.
“As a result of all these trials, I decided I will stand up on my feet and build my live from zero; I will help all women, now that I live in America and I have a chance to speak freely without fear,” she says. At 23, she established her organisation to provide female survivors of war with business and vocational skills to rebuild their lives.
Other contributors to #StillSheRises include philanthropist Sheikha Intisar Ali Al Sabah, founder of Kuwait’s Intisar Foundation; Najla Al Midfa, chief executive of Sheraa - Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre; and Queen Diambi Kabatusuila Tshiyoyo Muata, Queen of the Order of the Leopard of the Bakwa Luntu of Kasai, and founder of Elikia Hope Foundation.
To take part, women can share their own stories using the #StillSheRises hashtag on social media. It mirrors the same process of the Ubuntu Love Challenge, where individuals can motivate others through video messages in the spirit of the African philosophy of interdependence or Ubuntu (“I am because we are”).
“In the spirit of Ubuntu, they are calling on women around the globe to make an impact on their sisters and be inspired by the experiences of their peers in other nations and communities,” the organisers wrote in a statement.