AWRA will ‘empower young African girls to prosper’

Q: As an anchor and media consultant who managed to achieve great things, what does a movement like AWRA, created by African women for the African community mean to you?

A: The AWRA movement means a lot to me. I got quite excited when I was invited to join the platform by my dearest friend Reem Abdellatif, who is a founding member. For one simple reason: that is me being North African and knowing how difficult and challenging it is to recruit successful African women. There are many ;but we need to see more, we need to inspire youth and we need to send a clear message to African girls that dreams do come true as long as they keep insisting on achieving them, working hard, and surrounding themselves by other inspiring women. I think the AWRA platform will create this, it will empower young African girls to prosper in any walk of life they choose.

Q: How did you first discover your passion for journalism, particularly business journalism, which is a field dominated by many males not just in the Mideast but around the world?

A: I was discovered; that’s the nice part of my story. I was discovered by another woman, who was herself discovered by another woman. She was a banker and she moved from finance to business journalism, then she met me over a very casual lunch. She liked the way I was talking and spotted that I have a talent for telling stories and keeping people quite interested in what I say. We became friends. Then a few months down the line, she kept in touch and that is how I ended up becoming a Business Journalist. It was all thanks to a woman and this is why I am convinced that having the right women around young girls will help them quite a lot.

Q: In your field as a Senior Business Anchor in the Middle East, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced and what advice would you give to aspiring women journalists?

A: Journalism and the media industry is very competitive, requiring obvious brain abilities for the job prerequisites. I remember well that the first couple of years were not the easiest. The very first, plain and simple challenge was the unease you create once you first enter the industry, as a fresh face full of energy trying and willing to learn in every way possible to make a difference in Business Journalism. That in itself creates unease amongst colleagues. How I dealt with it was by keeping calm and insisting very hard. The first very few years you need to prove yourself and earn the respect of your colleagues. You don’t need to create any unease amongst the team members. The only way of doing it is to show them you’re there as a team player, but don’t over do it. I would say hard work. It will take some time, but I can assure every single young female wanting to enter this field that you do get there and you earn the respect you want within the team and the industry. It takes time, but you need to keep a straight line, clear strategy, and smart work.

Q: What kind of opportunities do you see in a post-covid world for women journalists in Africa?

A: I travelled to Uganda to film for one of my programs about successful business stories from the Middle East a few years ago. One of the profiles we featured was developing a huge project in Uganda, so we shadowed him there. We drove deep in the forest, past the Victoria lake, and we ended up in a very small village where people were dressed very plain, living there, and they had a very simple lifestyle. But, one thing I noticed is every person had a mobile phone. That means internet penetration is quite high and that itself is a big  opportunity; which means that journalists interested in Africa and African journalists can create amazing content that can be widely watched inside the continent because of internet penetration.

Q: At AWRA, we are keen on supporting women across the African continent and the diaspora to adopt a mindset to thrive. What does thriving mean to you?

A: Thriving means everything to me. Changing, developing and becoming the better version of yourself is what I always look for.  If I look back 10 years ago, I am now definitely the best version of me! I might even say that 10 years later, that’s what gives us hope and excites us to help others: It is to thrive.

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges facing women in Africa today, particularly in Morocco and North Africa?

A: In Morocco, fathers do everything they can to educate their daughters, the same way they invest in educating their boys. Where I can see the extra needed improvement is in the perception of male colleagues at the workplace, that needs to change.  Some have the perception that a woman needs to prove herself in the workplace and that needs to change. I think this is not just a Morocco issue, it is a global issue to a certain extent. It’s time to give women the support they need to get there, we are a minority after all in the workplace, of course, and in some careers more than others. Each woman has a strong reason to be out there and that should be in itself deserving of respect from their male counterparts.

Fatima Daoui

The Author

A Senior Business News Anchor and Media Consultant currently based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and working with one of the Middle East’s leading news channels, Al Arabiya. Fatima was born in Morocco and has a BA in International Business Studies and a Master’s degree in Business Management from the University of Westminster in London. She launched her career as an analyst at London-based investment firm Capital Trust, where she gained insights into the world of investing. She is passionate about education and capacity-building projects, such as mentorship for women and girls in the Middle East and Africa.