Nestle recently ran an inspirational Women of Strength campaign to recognize outstanding women in the Arab world. The project encouraged women from all over the region to submit their achievements to the competition’s facebook site. Over two hundred women shared inspirational stories of strength and determination, out of which an independent panel of judges selected their top five favorites.
Once the top five favorites were announced, a public vote using the social network site chose three winners, each of whom were awarded twenty thousand dollars to help towards achieving their dreams.
The Awards gala, held at The Movenpick hotel on 20 May, gave guests an opportunity to hear from the three chosen women and watch them receive their awards. The Nestlé panel of judges included Sarah Shuhail, Executive Director of Ewa’a Shelters for Women and Children; Nisreen Shocair, President of Virgin Megastore, MENA Region; Heba Al-Shaar, Consultant for Strategy Marketing and Communication; Rasha Al-Danhani, Chairman and Owner of PappaRoti Cafés; and Zeinab Maktabi, Corporate Nutritionist at Nestlé Middle East.The three finalists they selected were Nermin Siad, Veronique Mrad and Minal Zayed.
Nermin Siad, an enterprising Jordanian engineer living in KSA successfully set up her online business Handasiyat in order to reach out to female engineers who wanted to work from home. She wanted to work while also looking after her family, which led her to create the site. She found there was a strong demand for her skills on the design/planning side giving the ability to work remotely from home. “Initially, I wanted to recruit someone to help me achieve my own successes, but then I realized there was a whole generation of female engineers who were watching their dreams go up in smoke as they sacrificed their careers and years of training to stay at home and raise their families. This pushed me to do something more and help other women utilize their skills. My mission changed from simply building a career for myself to doing something to help other women.” she says.
Veronique Mrad, a children’s author from Lebanon, encourages literacy among children and helps them cope with the atrocities of war through her books. “Unfortunately, violence and tragedy are everywhere in the world and it is not possible to shield children from this reality. What we can do is equip them with the emotional tools and the correct framework to deal with what they see and experience,” She explains that this allows them to process it, put it into context and move on. It’s important to experience emotions like fear and grief, rather than just be in denial, but then it is also necessary to have an internal dialogue to deal with it and move on.
The third recipient was Manal Zayed, a pioneering optician from Jordan who works with children to eradicate stigma’s attached with wearing glasses. She works with families and schools to raise awareness of the importance of good eyesight and glasses for children, explaining the negative consequences bad eyesight can have on education and development. “Winning this competition will allow me to take my project forward and be able to help more children,” she says.
This sentiment was felt across all the top five winners and the guests who sat and listened to the heart felt stories. This first time award campaign by Nestle will hopefully continue for years to come.