Menna, 27, Egypt

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Q: Can you tell me your story of strength? What makes you strong?

I always knew that I had a dream, a target to reach. I felt like I was different from other girls in that I wanted to do something by myself. I didn’t want to have to depend on anyone else. I always saw myself as having a dream, but there were a lot of difficult things I‘d seen in my life that were obstacles along the way. To sum it up, I became strong because I didn’t listen to a lot of other people. People said, “you are a girl, it’s not right for you to travel, it’s not right for you to work.” So, I didn’t listen to people. I couldn’t if I was going to the reach the goals I hoped to achieve. I always have my target in front of me, I work hard to succeed, and alhamdulillah, I am succeeding.

When I was little, I always thought I wanted to do something different. I always knew I wanted to leave my print, and have an impact on the world. My family, of course, has supported me a lot. They believed in me, even when others didn’t. They knew I could do something big. There was support from my friends also but that came later, after I had started succeeding. In the beginning however there were a lot of doubts even from my friends but through it all, my family supported me.

My strength comes from within. So the way I see my story of strength is never having listened to people saying, “you can’t do this.” I am a now a jewelry designer in Cairo.

Q: Can you tell me about a woman who exemplifies strength in your life

I know a lot of strong women, but I am struggling to come up with a specific one in my life. All the women that come to mind, they have a common denominator.  They all struggle to be successful and more than that, they work to be productive members of society.

Q: Can you tell me about a time where you feel like you failed or truly disappointed yourself?  

There were a lot of times. When my father passed away, five years ago, I was in my last year in university. I was studying in the Faculty of Fine Arts. I finished university and started out in the real world but after my father died, I realized I used to rely on him for everything. I always had my dream since childhood but I never thought I would do it alone, I always felt I needed someone with me to take me around and do things for me.

So I realized I needed to work on myself and couldn’t be like this, relying on others for things I could do myself. I had to learn to depend on myself and work on my dream. I started out working as a graphic designer. So the feeling of society around me was always that you should stick with something stable and that you couldn’t go out and do your own thing. All the circumstances were saying I couldn’t do it. But I had had this dream since childhood. This period was very difficult; I had to learn how to depend on myself.

I am a jewelry designer and I’m trying to be an international brand but it is really difficult. There are times in the middle, when I am trying to enter a new market and build the brand which is hard. There are ups and downs it’s really difficult, but worth it.

Q: How can women better support each other?

They should believe in each other. You shouldn’t just think of solo success, but the success of us together, as women. Support other women! Believe in them when they can’t, knowing that they can do what they are dreaming. True success isn’t possible if I constrain success to myself. This is really important. Every woman needs to know that she can succeed when other women around her succeed.

It also very important for women to remind each other that they shouldn’t listen to what other people say, People will tell you it’s too difficult for you to do this, or “you can’t,” but no. You can do anything. If you have a dream, you will reach it but you must believe in yourself, and others. 

 

 

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