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    Interview Rana Askoul

    CEO of The Womanity Foundation

    A few words about you, your background and experience… How have they shaped the committed woman you are today?

    I was born to refugee parents in the Middle East. I think growing up with many labels and circumstances that limit your freedom and opportunities automatically pushes you. Either to conform and maintain the status quo, or to firmly believe that change is not only necessary but ultimately the only choice you have. I chose the latter and literally took every opportunity my open-minded parents gave me. Putting myself at the service of those who had not been as fortunate as I was was a no-brainer.


    Since April 2020, you have taken on the role of CEO of The Womanity Foundation, do you feel that you are now its standard bearer?

    It’s a huge responsibility. The role isn’t just about making sure the Foundation fulfills its mission, important as that is, but it’s also about putting our spirit of inclusion and equality at the heart of our work. It is also about finding the balance between our thoughts and beliefs as individuals and how we can collectively build a future based on equality and inclusion for our communities.


    What are the actions and programs conducted by The Womanity Foundation? How did the foundation come about and since when?

    Womanity is a Geneva-based foundation, established in 2005 and ranked 146th in the Top 500 NGOs 2020 global ranking. We invest in bold solutions that accelerate gender equality: This is to create sustainable social change and foster an inclusive world where women and men enjoy equal rights and opportunities. Womanity works on a wide range of issues. It ranges from promoting girls’education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), to preventing violence against women or scaling up the impact of social enterprises focused on women’s issues and through its media programs in the MENA region that aim to change gender stereotypes, a major obstacle on the road to equality for women.


    Does The Womanity Foundation’s work focus on particular countries? How do you identify them?

    Today, our programs are primarily active in the Global South. This geographic focus has formed organically over the years. We go where we identify opportunities to do things in innovative ways and where we think we can have the most impact.


    Some key numbers that highlight the efforts of the past 15 years…

    • 22.6 million people supported by Womanity since 2005
    • 23 million media audience
    • 34,200 female students have benefited from our programs in Afghanistan
    • 16 social enterprises receive our support and increase their impact


    What do you see as the challenges of the next 15 years?

    Our goal is to increase the impact of our work to create egalitarian and inclusive societies. In the MENA region for example, we want to pave the way for new platforms to emerge so that women’s voices can be represented and heard. Our work through WeMean is focused on creating such platforms to digitally reach the minds and hearts of young people in the region. We measure our success not only by the reach and engagement of the various content we create – such as our most recent YouTube series “Smi’touha Menni” – but also by our ability to inspire and collaborate with others so that more voices call for much needed change.


    Biography (in 5 key points)

    • 15 years of experience in the public, private and non-governmental sectors
    • established the Board Director Institute for the Gulf Cooperation Council at McKinsey & Co
    • led the regional gender balance program in the MENA region at General Electric
    • founder of Changing Pink – consulting on key regional projects to eliminate gender inequality in MENA
    • led the design and development of the Leadership Program for Young Arab Women Scientists with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Islamic Development Bank.
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