Syrian journalist, scriptwriter, and now artist Zakiya Kurdi was watching TV one day when a report about an African artist who paints using sand came on. She was taken by the art form and began exploring and experimenting with it. Her first painting took several months to be finished. The process is quite lengthy; Kurdi begins by drawing with charcoal and colors the sand before using it in her pieces. Her portraits show women from different parts of the world. Although each is unique, what they share in common is that they all had a great effect on Kurdi, begging her to draw them.
“I didn’t find one real solution for violence against women,” says Lina Khalifeh. And so she decided to take matters into her own hands. In 2010, starting in her parent’s basement, the young Lina Khalifeh founded SheFighter in Jordan. Its aim is “to empower women both mentally and physiologically through self-defense techniques”. According to their website, many efforts and initiatives that focus on dealing with violence against women choose to concentrate on the social and psychological aspects, but what sets SheFighter apart is that it also takes protection into account. They talk about harassment and share stories but they also address prevention and teach self-defense.
Upon winning first place in the education category of the Challenge Cup in Amman, Khalifeh went on to compete in Washington, where her efforts were recognized and highlighted in President Obama’s speech. Lina is a certified trainer and has more than 17 years’ experience in various martial arts, from boxing to Tae Kwon Do, in which she holds a black belt.
When Lina was starting out, many men and women in society did not support the idea of empowering women through self-defense, but the numbers would soon prove them wrong. So far, Lina has taught around 10,000 women how to defend themselves. SheFighter has about 800 trainers and sometimes holds workshops where as many as 200 women are trained at a time. The studio has also expanded to include a wider variety of courses, such as SheCombo and SheYoga.
Interested in learning more about self-defense? These great books will get you on the right path:
This article was originally published on BarakaBits on 16/07/2015.