By Zayneb Mahdi- When I was asked to write an article for Nina, I thought it would be only fitting to write something within the context of International Women’s day. I started by thinking and researching inspirational women from all over the world – my angle would be to tell the story of strength, collaboration, vision, empowerment, adversity, courage and so much more. All channeled through one inspirational woman that my article would spotlight – one woman to channel all of these characteristics and inspire you.
I paused to reflect – who is this woman? How could I find her? I started researching.
And then I realised – ‘she’ was staring at me. ‘She’ had been with me from the start, ‘she’ was Nina. Nina is all of those things and more…..and rather than telling the story of one single woman, I wanted to share the story of Nina, what ‘she’ was created to do and what ‘she’ means to me. As to me Nina personifies all of these traits and more.
I was part of Nina from the start all those years ago, my connection to Nina is extremely personal. I was born in Baghdad and left after the first Gulf War. I have been living in London since I was 4 and I’m in my 30s now. I count myself as Iraqi (first) and British (second). My Iraqi heritage forms the first part of me and my British-ness compliments the rest. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to bring together the best of both worlds. I have the strong family values, relationships and let’s not forget love for food from my Iraqi side and London has provided me with an enriched life full of opportunity – a great education, a great career, a great network and the list goes on. London has not only given me, but encouraged me, to become an economically empowered woman.
That is the essence of Nina – to promote economic empowerment for women, by women. We wanted to promote the growth and development of a gender that is so often marginalised. We wanted to promote economic empowerment in a region that has suffered from war in all of its forms. The thinking was if we could support women to grow the private sector in these much needed regions, we would be contributing to the growth and stability of the region. For me personally, all of the things that I took for granted when I was growing up in London – the liberty to go to school, the pursuit of an education, the pursuit of a career, the network and skills I built as a result. All of those opportunities brought me to where I am today and it is luck that I was able to get them. The luck to be living in a country where all of that is afforded to you without thinking. I wanted to be involved in a platform that facilitates those opportunities to women that may not have had them as easily as I have had. That’s why Nina means so much to me.
Nina promotes opportunities for women. It couldn’t personify all of the values that International Women’s Day promotes more if it tried. It’s mission is to celebrate and develop women. And I am excited for the new chapter Nina is entering into. I am excited to welcome our new editor-in-chief, who has refreshed my enthusiasm for Nina. I am excited that we have refreshed our value statement ‘growing stronger by sharing’. We want to give women a voice, we want to encourage you to share your stories because we will not be able to grow stronger without you.
So that’s what Nina means to me – tell me – what does Nina mean to you?