While a part of the Saudi society is sometimes seen as moving backwards in time, there is another part, less known, which is going in the opposite direction. The western media will rarely show us this side. I recently learned about the Takalamy initiative. I would describe the Takalamy initiative as..inspiring, empowering, forward-thinking, hopeful, enlightening.
Takalamy- She speaks. These young Saudi women are speaking their minds, and you should listen.
“Our Story: Two of our Takalamy team members decided to take on the challenge for their senior project and create a short, complex 10 minute movie.
The script was written as a narrative that highlights issues that arise from the clash of traditional vs. modern ways of life for a Saudi female student abroad.
Instead, the team decided to place multiple opinions into one voice, by interviewing some of the female college students abroad about their opinions on different topics. We hope this will help Takalamy take its initiative forward, and make a difference to the local community.
We are a number of Saudi females with an objective of creating a platform that encourages the outflow of thoughts and opinions, and make it easy for everyone to voice them. We realize the importance of freedom of thought and speech and hope to give Saudi women, and men, a safe place to practice this freedom.
What drove us to take this initiative is the need to emphasize the importance of equality in the advancement of society. We want to be thought provoking and spread ideas. We aim to be unbiased, open-minded, community oriented, interactive.
Mission Statement: We aim to encourage women to speak their minds aloud in order to express their presence in the saudi Arabian community and help their opinions shape its future.
Vision statement: By breaking gender barriers we aim to expand the notion of what it means to be a woman in Saudi Arabia to embrace and celebrate equality, opportunity, empowerment, self-fulfillment, independence, and development. We want to put the power of words as the force for positive social change.”
The following are some of my favorite quotes from the video, which can be viewed at the end of this post.
3 Words to Describe Saudi Women:
“Hardworking. Hopeful. Family oriented.”
“Determined. Struggled…. Adaptive.”
“Fearful in the sense that Saudi women realize they are oppressed in certain ways but too afraid to do anything about it, but at the same time they are very strong to be able to withstand those circumstances.
Cultured, because they hold on to their culture and they really love it.”
How would you describe freedom?
“Freedom is synonymous with choice.”
“The freedom to choose in everything. To overcome social restrictions.”
“To have the tools to live your life to its fullest.”
“The ability to make your own choices and to speak your mind in a society that respects that, even when they disagree with you.”
How would you describe power?
“Everyone deserves to be powerful over their own self and there shouldn’t be an over-ruling power that tells you and dictates to you who to be and what to do. That is something I believe in. Is that really possible in there being a power over you?”
“Power is media and its influence.”
What’s your opinion on male guardianship?
“I find that the concept of guardianship is restrictive,
it’s offensive to society, offensive to men and to women.
If I need a male guardian to protect myself from the ‘other men’, what does that say about those other men around me? I think more highly of the ‘other men’ in my society than they do of themselves.
Men should think higher of themselves! “
“I think it is very unfair for a woman to be restricted in the sense that she has to ask permission for everything she does.
Someone is in control of her entire life. “
How can you really reach your limits and do great things if you constantly have to ask permission?” “I hear this all the time:
‘Women are the most valuable jewels of our society, so we have to protect them.’
This is not only a very condescending argument, but also it’s also completely illogical.
You cannot justify dominance based on how valuable the people you’re oppressing are.”
What do you think about our society’s perception of marriage?
“The type of people I know back home wouldn’t say, ‘I’m not going to marry her because she studied abroad.’ I think it exists though, it definitely does.” “We think in our culture that a man or marriage, completes you, which is so wrong.
Nobody will complete you.
you have to be happy on your own, then find a partner to walk with you.”
“Forty years ago, or even 10 years ago, there was a stigma attached to a girl studying abroad, on her own. But I think in terms of education, we’ve moved a long way from that prejudice.”
What’s your opinion on societal barriers we create that limit honest conversation?
“You are not you. You are your name. And your family, and your siblings, and your parents. So whatever I say reflects on them so much that it could harm them. And that is terrifying. That is what stops so many women from doing things.”
“A lot of people are afraid of society’s judgments. It does not only apply to women. Men, too, are very much restrained in their ability to speak freely. We’re programmed that way,
the suspicion of being judged follows us, no matter how far we are from home.”
What is your biggest achievement?
“My choice to pursue music as a serious profession. By far, that is the thing I’m most proud of.
It’s my choice and it’s the bravest, hardest thing I’ve had to do.”
“Starting my own fashion house starting with a dress designed with hand-made seaweed paper. One of my dresses was featured in Vanity Fair Magazine which lead to me launching four fashion lines. My clothing is represented in New York, Deli, Bombay, Qatar, Kuwait, Dubai, Jeddah and Riyadh.”
“Being true to yourself in a world that is trying to make you into someone else.”
“Finishing my architectural degree
finding that thing I am passionate for and pursuing it.”
“Creating a social media site about all the exciting things now happening in Saudi Arabia.”
What Advice do you have for Saudi Women?
“Don’t be afraid to follow your passion. Go for it.””Make success a habit.
You consistently make a commitment that you will work through your fear everyday. You’re going to work your craft every day and make it a conscious decision to put aside everything that doesn’t matter…It’s a habit, a commitment.”
“If you see an opportunity, take it, but don’t compromize who you are.”
What would you like to see change in the future?
“Men are not always aware of the benefits of change, but we [women] are. The first thing I would like Saudi women to do is to try to change their outlook and ask questions about what they want rather than to be told what they want.” “If we allow ourselves to be driven by fear, the thing that frightens us the most will haunt us. We have to learn to speak up and know we are not alone in the struggle and others will support us.
No one can know the struggles of a Saudi woman better than another Saudi woman.”
“People are starting to realize they can make a change and that it starts from within. Some women are finding a voice for themselves and achieving more because they realize that.” “We’re taught not to ask questions.
Ask questions, questions are fantastic.”
“Change is inevitable.
We can change, and still preserve our culture and our religion.”
Watch the entire video here:
For more information:
Website: COMING SOON: www.takalamy.com
Participants: Sara Al Mutlaq, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts. Architecture
Naeema Al Hazza, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, Bio Chemistery (Major) Cinema Studies (minor)
Haifa Al Sudairy, Georgetown Universtiy, Washington, DC, Middle Eastern Studies, focus on Women in Islam
Rotana Tarabzouni, University of California, Los Angeles, Masters in Communication Management, minor in Music
Sarrah Yousoef, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Economics major, Religion Minor
Razan Al Azzouni, School of Museum Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, Fine Arts and Art History, Studio Arts Degree in Sculputre and paper making
Saja Kamal, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Dania Al Rashed, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, Journalist and Political Science
Dalal Al Bwardi, Grad Student, Emerson College, Integrated Marketing Communications
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Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010. Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 75 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia! Follow my adventures in Saudi and beyond on instagram: instagram.com/blueabaya