My name is Yasmina Benslimane, I am a 27-years-old young Moroccan woman. Like many of you, I don’t have a dream, I have many. Politics and international relations have always fascinated me. After studying Politics as a major in my undergraduate studies at Saint Louis University, Madrid, I have started to acquire the analytic skills to understand some of the complexities of our modern world. Politics are an opportunity to contribute to making a change in our troubled world. The interest in the field arose in my childhood thanks to both my grandparents who were politicians.
Having evolved in an environment where political issues were always discussed, I considered the field at an early age. Therefore, knowledge and understanding of it was a genuine interest. It is also primordial as “In our age, there is no such thing as keeping out of politics, all issues are political issues” (Georges Orwell). Politics are often perceived as a corrupted milieu and as a way to gain money, power, and fame. Today, few people can change this distorted vision and struggle for a better world. Our generation should strive to defend the right values: democracy, social justice, equality, and tolerance.
I am also passionate about international law, I have completed my master’s degree in International Law and the Settlement of Disputes at the UN Mandated University for Peace. I hold a strong interest in human rights, in particular gender and migration issues, and have gained extensive experience in both international and non-governmental organizations such as the National Council of Human Rights in Morocco, UNESCO, UNHCR, and IOM the UN Migration Agency. After living in six countries, completing both undergraduate and graduate studies in extremely diverse environments, I have come to a conclusion: gender inequality is universal. Therefore, I have decided to forever raise her voice for all women going through this oppression. Women tend to be silent because they are scared to break the status quo or traditions. There is still a long path to world peace. Everyone is part of the solution to achieve it, especially the youth. Together, we can brave all the challenges. We can all make a difference.
My name is Rabab Talal. I was born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco but have lived in different parts of the world for my studies and work including Canada, Spain, Costa Rica, and Jordan. I am a graduate with a masters in International Peace with a specialization in Media, Peace and Conflict Studies from the UN Mandated University for Peace. I have experience in politics and development in the MENA region and in research on migration issues in Central America and electoral systems in the Arab region. Some of my professional experiences include UNDP Regional Hub for the Arab States in Jordan, the National Human Rights Council of Morocco.
I am currently working as the Development Coordinator for a grassroots organization in Morocco called “Project Soar,” that supports teen girls empowerment in rural and semi-rural areas in order for them to become leaders with powerful voices for inclusion and democracy. I am a strong advocate of women and girls’ rights, education for all and youth civic participation and development. I am very passionate about world peace, cultural exchanges, and a travel addict.
Being born and raised in a country like Morocco, with a dominant patriarchal society, where women and girls do not enjoy the same opportunities and rights as their male counterparts, I quickly learned the harsh reality of gender discrimination. Even though I was part of the few lucky ones, I knew that not all girls and women of my country experienced the same advantages. I grew up in a family of feminists. Both my parents and grandparents always portrayed and defended the values of girls and female empowerment and independence. From an early age, I learned the importance of believing in my potential and defending my equal rights. After I have read the two books my dad wrote about Arab women I have decided to stop being a passive observer but to act on it because at the end of the day we are all in the same team and fighting the same fight: for our voice to be heard. I decided to make gender equality a life goal for me.
My name is Lina, I was born in Canada and raised in Morocco. At 17, I moved back to Canada to complete my studies and enrolled in a double major bachelor in Economics and Politics at Université de Montréal followed by a certificate in Industrial Relations. Following this, I completed a master’s degree in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University in the City of New York where I chose to write my master thesis on the so-called conflict in the Sahara, and also interned at the Moroccan Permanent Mission the United Nation. During my master’s, I lived for a short period of time in Bangkok where I interned at the UNDP focusing my work on a regional initiative called N-Peace, which promotes women’s place and efforts in peace-building and peacemaking in seven southern Asian countries.
I am now working in operations management at an IT company in Montreal. I consider myself more than just a feminist, I strongly believe in the necessity to live in a world where gender-based discrimination and violence shouldn’t exist and in the equality of chances for all. I am a ride or die Beyhive, I am passionate about politics, reading, and caught the travel bug at an early age. I was educated on gender inequality at an early age in my life. My feminist champions are and remain, my family members who explained to me, ever since I was young, the adversity I will have to overcome because of my gender. Early on, I was overwhelmed by the unfairness of the situation: “life will be hard for you because you are a woman”. As I grew up, I could only realize how true these statements were, how misogynistic our world is and always asked myself how we could change that. Also, the disparity between people in the country shook me.
All of this made shaped up my feminist self today: I believe in inclusive feminism, one that does not perpetuate other kinds of racism and inequality, one that is intersectional and takes into consideration women of color and their reality, economic disparities, what they imply and so on. And so, early on, the need to fight for genre equality and gender equity was instilled in me. It got shaped through personal research, my travels, my studies and books and remains a guiding light in all I do in life.
My name is Sophie Herbut. I was born in Valencia, Venezuela. When I was about 4, my parents uprooted our lives and moved us to Miami, Florida where I grew up in a loving but complicated household. I was raised primarily by my young mother who struggled to give us a good life but she engrained in my sister and me a sense of independence and challenged traditional constructions of womanhood by simply saying she didn’t agree with most of them. I knew my upbringing was a lot different than most but it gave me comfort in voicing my opinion, a bold act in such a machista culture.
Throughout my childhood, I was always reading and my favorite books, still, are Nancy Drew books. This sparked my interest in investigating and directed me into a path of journalism, where I could use my research skills and writing skills and shine a light on issues of the underserved, discriminated, and voiceless. At 21, I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in English at Florida International University and at 23, I earned my Master’s degree in Journalism from New York University.
In understanding sex and gender discrimination, we can understand the foundations of many international policies and human rights issues throughout the world today. It is an evergreen subject that seems daunting but I truly believe in Gloria Steinem when she said: “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” It’s important that we become aware of our personal structures and understandings as “learned” in order to be able to dismantle the entire collective system.
My name is Sarah Cavarretta, I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Growing up in a multicultural environment helped frame my world view and appreciation for diversity. However, being surrounded by stark inequalities in society prompted a lot of self reflection into my privilege and inspired me to understand the working class struggle.
I completed a bachelors from San Diego State University, in International Security and Conflict Resolution, with a specialization in Justice in the Global System. In this time my studies gave particular attention to international women’s movements and coalitions. My undergraduate research focused on the implementation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325, a landmark resolution calling for gender mainstreaming. After graduating I became certified in Mediation and Negotiations and backpacked Italy for the summer.
Afterwards, I moved to Costa Rica to attend the U.N. Mandated University For Peace where I completed a M.A. of International Law and Human Rights. This program gave me the opportunity to learn from and connect with U.N. bodies, as well regional institutions that implement human rights law. My thesis Moving Beyond Philanthropy, urges states to enable regional actions plans to address the impending crisis of climate change and global inequality. I believe the trajectory of conflict transcends borders and requires comprehensive solutions from regional bodies. Therefore we must shift out focus from humanitarian aid to permanent human security. States must empower citizens to be stewards of their own lives, rather than perpetual recipients of western aid.
I have experience in social work as a behavior therapist, and have worked for international NGO’s like the International Rescue Committee and Oxfam International. My most recent work has been on political campaigns and community organizing in Los Angeles, CA. Today I live in Costa Rica where I am pursuing bee keeping and sustainability. I believe environmental and human rights are inseparable. The quality and dignity of human life is contingent on our planets survival and health. Therefore I subscribe to an intersectional eco-feminism, one that champions the liberation and free movement of all people, and rejects all forms of class oppression.