Dubai: An Egyptian nominee in Arab Hope Makers 2020, which will conclude on February 20 in Dubai, has spoken about her challenges and success in balancing motherhood with her work ambitions.
The Arab Hope Makers is an annual award ceremony, launched in 2017 by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to honour people who start humanitarian projects that improve their communities. In the previous round, over 87,000 entries were recorded; five finalists took home Dh1 million in each round to support their humanitarian projects.
Asma Saber Al Sheemi, who lives in Egypt, led a successful career in digital marketing before quitting in 2013 to dedicate her time to raising children.
But a sense of unproductivity haunted her. “I placed my children as my priority, but I also wanted to meet my ambitions and be successful in the workplace,” said Al Sheemi, 31.
In 2018, she decided to launch ‘More than a mother’, an online platform that offers free vocational courses to empower stay-at-home mothers with necessary skills to freelance and work from home. Her project came after a series of challenges she faced trying to find a job as a mother.
Al Sheemi had pursued a degree in social work in 2008 before working in digital marketing for five years. Being a stay-at-home mother for six years, she wanted to go back to pursuing her career that had now changed due to the emergence of social media.
After finishing online courses and obtaining a marketing diploma, Al Sheemi’s real struggle started in landing a job as a mother.
“I searched for part-time jobs, but most of the offers I got did not meet my skills. I had ambitions to work at an agency, but I was rejected for being a mother who may fall behind in performance.”
She added: “From here, I was introduced to the then-new concept of freelancing in Egypt and I started taking on tasks and working from home.”
Trying to take her experience to positively impact the lives of other women, Al Sheemi launched the online platform to foster the culture of freelancing among stay-at-home mothers, encourage distance learning and positively utilise technology.
“Learning different skills can also allow women to start their own online business without letting go of their roles as mothers.”
Al Sheemi, along with more than 20 volunteers, uses her skills to design online courses in different fields including marketing, graphic design and video editing and production.
Her team of volunteers across a range of specializations helped introduce online courses in content creation, handicraft, handmade accessories and leather design to empower women to start their own businesses from home.
The platform also provides a section for social media marketing to enable homemakers to promote their handicraft online, giving them the necessary photography and digital marketing skills.
She started off the initiative with courses in five fields, which, thanks to the continuous contribution of volunteers, has now expanded to 13 fields. In its first year, the platform trained 1,000 women with aims to reach 2,000 beneficiaries before the end of 2020.
Al Sheemi’s ultimate goal is to fight the society’s stereotype towards working mothers. “Woman can have children and remain productive in the workplace,” she said.
What is new this year?
The third edition of Arab Hope Makers will be held at Dubai’s Coca Cola Arena on February 20
The latest cycle attracted 92,000 humanitarian projects from 38 countries
It will now also adopt an ‘Arab Humanitarian Cause of the Year’ on an annual basis
2,000 people are expected to attend the award ceremony
The show will include multi-Grammy award-winning artist RedOne, performing alongside Nawal Al Kuwaitia, Emirati singer Balqees and Palestinian pop singer and former Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf
Proceeds will be going towards supporting the construction of the new Magdi Yacoub Global Aswan Heart Centre in Egypt.