On Omani Women’s day, a new generation of trailblazers talks about how it feels to be YOUNG & RESTLESS
We are living in an age where there is restlessness among young women to break more glass ceilings.
Empowerment is gaining more meaning, and the ambiguous spaces of gender equality are fast fading. There’s a fire in their belly to do more, achieve more, speak up more and most importantly change more.
As women’s voices become stronger and louder across the globe, we look at the young change-makers in our own backyard who are stories of grit and perseverance. These young women are ‘young and restless’ in their zeal to leave an impact on the future generation of change-makers to follow.
We asked four young women from the sultanate who have made their mark in sports, music and as social media influencers on how it feels to be ‘young and restless’ in their journey.
Fatma Mirza, Musician
Fatma Mirza is a musician and the co-founder of Women Manifesto, which recently released its visual album ‘Melanin’.
“As an artist and a woman of colour in the Middle East, I feel like I have a duty to speak up about what we face on a daily basis. I've always loved music and creating things from scratch, and I felt that a project produced and directed by Omani youth, discussing the empowerment of women, was long overdue. So my team, Women Manifesto, and I aimed to spread the message of female empowerment to as many people as possible, women and men alike. We want to educate the youth on what feminism really means, one project at a time, to hopefully one day achieve equality. As a musician I feel, despite the powerful effect of music alone, blending visuals, audio and a strong message can go a long way, which is part of what made the making of Melanin such an exciting journey. But this is only the beginning of what we plan to do and create. Whether its to express, inspire or both, I feel determined to spark conversations on topics that relate to equality and being true to yourself. Although these issues require a lot of time and perseverance, it's important to spark discussions about them to reach some kind of resolution. I have several topics that I aim to spread awareness on, including empowering women, supporting the youth in expressing themselves, and helping develop the local music scene.”
Lara al Yafei, Youth Olympic swimmer
Sixteen year old Lara al Yafei made history as the first-ever Omani girl swimmer at the Summer Youth Olympic Games.
“When I was competing in the games, it was a surreal experience. I felt nervous yet excited and it was the best feeling just being there amongst the best and strongest athletes in the world. I’ve been swimming for the past 11 years and, of course, I love swimming but it takes a lot of dedication and hard work to get somewhere. I’ve to wake up early in the morning and train while everyone else is sleeping everyday, eat healthy, and to top all, even keep up with my lessons and responsibilities. It’s been a long journey but I feel I’m getting my reward finally. After competing in the Youth Olympics, my passion has increased tremendously. I feel like I can do anything I set my mind to. After talking to the best athletes in the world, I realised I am much more hungry to achieve more and fulfil my potential. I want to train harder and do more. There are still lots of ‘glass ceilings’ that we young Omani women have to break, but I’m hopeful that we’ll get there, one by one. The main thing is to support each other when things get tough or when society places barriers in our way. We can and we will do it! I hope everyone out there, especially the young girls, know that there’s no limit to achieving your dreams.
Fatma al Manji, Race jockey
Fatma al Manji is an officer with the Royal Cavalry and race jockey who represents Oman in international events.
“This is a hard sport and that itself has been a challenge motivating me to work hard. The Royal Cavalry has given me a great chance to achieve this level and standard of sportsmanship. I never give up and I do lots of research about the race in which I am about to participate along with the results of the previous race and the condition of the horse that I am about to ride. There’s a lot of concentration involved and the falls are very bad at times; I’ve fallen three times. When I’m riding, I only think about winning and how to reach the finish line safely. It feels so good when I overtake other horses to the finishing line.
“I am happy with the level I have achieved as an Omani girl in this field. I will do my best and strive hard to go further. It is an exciting sport as you travel and meet people and get to learn so much. But it doesn’t stop here for me because nothing is impossible! And there’s so much to do. I want to train a younger generation of girls to be jockeys.”
Ashwaq al Maskery, YouTube content creator
Ashwaq al Maskery is YouTube’s ambassador as a Creator for Change for the second year in a row.
“In a world where you feel like you're competing with millions of others to be more creative and create a bigger impact, it can get exhausting. However, the competition also drives me to discover new opportunities; it motivates me to explore myself and what I am capable of when it comes to creating content. Therefore, it's crucial that I find the balance in my aspirations to create the change I want to see in the world by sharing my thoughts and knowledge and taking good care of my mental and physical health to be able to do more. As for being young, I believe it's a phase we will only live once. However, we get to decide how long our youth stays. We can keep our minds and bodies young and more mature with each lesson learnt.
“Through my YouTube channel, I share my life thoughts on social issues in order to get people to think from a different perspective. I recently started a new series, called This is Oman, where I go on adventures around the sultanate and share my experiences with the world.”