Back to 2015, I was a student doing my bachelor degree in Genetics 🧬 and besides that I was active in the community, I established a couple of voluntary projects, like: (Know your university, All Community,...) and participated in a lot of project with my university ended me up to be the one who representing my university "Al-Balqa'a Applied University" in both national and international events and conferences over 41,000 students in my university with its 14 branches around Jordan 🇯🇴
Ex.: One of them representing the university in the Youth, Peace and Security conference that launched by the crown prince Al-Hussien Bin Abdullah II, and representing my university as an International delegate joining MUN in the American University of Sharjah...
Anyways, doing all of that was an added value for me enhancing my public speaking skills, communication skills,... BUT! there were thousands of students who weren't able to do anything of that! one of them came to me and she said: "Laith, how lucky you are! because you are a male you are able and allowed to do all of that, I wish if I could particpate in any of these activities and projects, but I worked so hard to convince my family to allow me to go to university! you know we are living in a community that controlled by the stereotypes.. so imagine telling them I want to join a social group who can travel around and it's full of men and boys..".
It was a shock for me being in the middle of this conversion. On the way back to home I was sitting in the bus thinking of that conversation and that female who finally spoke up and let me go inside of her comfort zone! it took me only this trip -my way back to home, 1 hour- to be fully sure about investing all my skills and experiences doing something to breakdown the stereotypes around us.
Have you ever heard before about the attraction law ? I really do believe in that, I went back to home -it was on October 2015- scrolling down on Instagram, and by chance I saw Emma Watson posted a picture for a movement called HeForShe, it was a picture for the HeForShe pins 👇
After seeing this picture, directly knew it's the male and female signs together! since I'm a geneticist, these pins made me curious to know more about this movement! I direcly searched on google about HeForShe and clicked on the first result HeForShe.org and start reading, I remeber I read everything in the website, (everything in the home page, about, the news room, followed the movement on all social media channels..) I felt so committed and amazed of what I seen!
In the home page they wrote something like "Be one of the first 500,000 men around the world who stand for women's right", I directly signed up my name and was proud for being one of the first 500,00 men around the world who committed to the movement I was number 483,128, so I took a screenshot for my commitment and shared it on social media using the hashtag #HeForShe.. ended me up applying for the UN Women Jordan as an intern to start work on the movement in an official way at the end of October 2015, I passed all the exams, sent all my papers and all the requested documents, and the UN Women stuff and the UN Women representative welcomed me to start my official journey as a coordinator for the HeForShe movement in Jordan.
WOW, while writing this I'm seeing the whole journey after 5 years as a flashback 🥰 especially while scrolling down in my photos on Facebook to get the above screenshot I saw many photos for our activities in HeForShe!
We started with a goal to reach 10,000 men in Jordan to join the movement! When we started we had around 400 men who committed to stand up to women's right and within 3 months with ZERO budget with the awesome volunteers who I worked with we were able to reach the first 10,000 commitments from Jordan.
We started with activities inside the universities in Jordan, we visited 7 universities using the public transportation, the volunteers helped in offering the water during the tour, I start taking my launch from home to save some money to buy some basic materials that could help us advocating the students to raise awareness towards the women's right, and we launched the first activity 👇
We got huge cartons/cards and created the HeForShe Logo in the middle of the university and we asked the students to sign up for women's right by writing their names and the most priority issues they feel we should solve to reach planet 5050, and we were able to reach more than 700 commitments from this activity... so activity by activity during three months to reach 10,000 commitments to make Jordan 🇯🇴 the first country in the Arab region with the highest number of commitments on HeForShe.org and we still the first country till now 💪 (May 2020).
By seeing how the movement impacted the volunteers and improved their skills by the training courses we gave to them, such as: (I know gender, debate training courses, time management, public speaking....) I felt more committed, I felt like now I have a huuuuuuuge responsibility! There is no room to go back now.. even it was so hard sometimes since I was in my last semester at university and about to graduate so I need to get hight marks and study hard! but as I mentioned before by seeing how the movement imopacted the volunteers I decided to keep moving forward, I said to myself "It's ok I'm still 21 so I have to put everything away of me and focusing only on three things for the upcoming four months -till I graduate-, these three things were:
- Studying hard, even if late at night.
- Keep working on HeForShe.
- And keep working on my radio show -that time I was an editor and presenter in a Radio show with Hawa Amman, taking a part in a show talking about volunteerism-.
So I focused on these there things and I was able to make it, I graduated from university as the 2nd student in my faculty 🎓
The days pass by, the weeks pass, the months pass, and now Arabic HeForShe 👇
- Launched the first GetFree University Tour in the Middle East in Jordan.
- Jordan team inspired people from: Tunisia, UAE, Bahain, Italy, Palestine, Saudi Arabia.. to start working on the movement from their countries.
- We reached more than 40,000 offline commitments and more than 20,000 online commitments.
- We launched five different HeForShe clubs: (HeForShe Debate Club, Theater Club, Art Club, Public Speaking Club, and Languages Club).
- We have a lot of partners on board with us, such as: (The Sweden Embassy, The French Embassy, The Canadian Embassy, SDGsJo Advocated, Greater Amman Municipality,...) and of course the UN Women Country Office of Jordan.
- We particpated in the HeForShe Second Meeting in Mexico in UNAM representing Arabic HeForShe and we launched with three awesome people Jose from Mexico, Eric from NYC and Camille from France the International HeForShe Council to help all the active volunteers and leaders who want to establish the movement in their countries, cities, schools, universities, organizations... on how to start the movement.
I dream now after all of this to move the movement to the next level, by launching the movement in all the countries in the Middle East sharing my knowledge working on the movement in the Arab Region, talking about the challenges, and creating a huge network for the HeForShe in the Arab world 🌎
You, -the reader-.. your voice matters and you can be the change you want, stand on the right side of history with us and click on "Count Me In 👇
This is my equality story 👇
HeForShe in NYC showcased this story in the HeForShe 2nd anniversary.
General Photos 😍
To be added soon!
Arabic HeForShe Team 💪😍
To be added soon!