Updated March 16, 2023

"It takes ten times longer for a woman to find a job than for a man..."

By Shana Devleschoudere
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"Every woman we train is a role model for others. Economic independence is not freedom, but a tool for achieving it" - Sana Afouaiz/Womenpreneur.

"Every woman we train is a role model for others. Economic independence is not freedom, but a tool for achieving it" - Sana Afouaiz/Womenpreneur.

As we've seen over the past few weeks, the Leader is multi-faceted, like the ball of the same name. So this Friday, we continue our investigation into today's Leadership. And a revelation has come to light. Her name is Sana Afouaiz!
A leader is not just a leader of men and women. In today's society, those who aspire to become leaders must be highly adaptable if they are to achieve their goals. Like a multi-faceted ball, he or she will have to use and show different sides of his or her personality, depending on the situation.
Today, one of the cardinal values in business is... happiness! The equation is simple: a happy employee will be more committed and produce better quality work. And the company that employs them will benefit as a result. Sounds elementary, but it's not always the case. There are many examples where management by pressure and fear is still the rule.
Today, many people have realized that goodwill is the key. The proof is in Sana Afouaiz, who was the revelation of the "Lobby Awards 2022". And as fate would have it, this inspiring woman of Moroccan origin founded the non-profit organization Womenpreneur here in Brussels. A non-profit organization that encourages the often marginalized women of Belgium, the Middle East and North Africa to become entrepreneurs and train, to secure their place in the economy of the future and to gain financial independence, synonymous with freedom.
The woman who defines her association as "a stimulator of female economic participation, through entrepreneurship and job creation in the fields of tomorrow, leadership, technology, sustainable development..." can be proud of what she has achieved.
Her track record? With her, over 16,000 women have benefited from the support, training, courses and networks that Womenpreneur initiates and offers them free of charge. The aim is to help them set up their own business or gain access to employment. But the Belgian-Moroccan sees further ahead: "Every woman we train or who succeeds in life is a role model for others. This can be anything from Ilham Kadri to the neighbor who thrives in the store next door. Economic and financial independence isn't freedom, but it's a tool, a basis for achieving it, for looking at our environment differently".
Sana Afouaiz's battles are many and varied: feminism, sexism, machismo, gender equality, racism... She's on all fronts! But she makes a connection: "If I had known what I know today, I would have studied technology. The real power is in the hands of the people who know how to manage it. That's why we focus on digital skills. Only 8% of women work in tech. What a waste of talent! We're also opening up to other professions in which women are under-represented, such as firefighting and construction, in an effort to widen the field of possibilities. Women must be at the heart of the economy of the future. But progress towards real equality is still a long way off. And I don't know if we'll get there in my lifetime... On average, it takes a woman ten times longer to find a job than a man. Less than 13% of women are entrepreneurs. Hence the importance of plans to encourage the creation and integration of women into the workforce, whatever their field of activity. I've experienced and fought discrimination, and I've seen so many injustices, at every level, that women accept. I myself don't feel included, when I see, even here in Belgium, the debates that still surround abortion, the sexualization of women in the media, the condescension with which I'm spoken of. With Womenpreneur, we try to create economic opportunities, to set up several projects a year, acceleration programs, resilience programs, awareness-raising programs, ...".
Find out more about this extraordinary woman, who also works at the UN, in the Lobby on page 54!
In the meantime, do you remember what you'd already accomplished by the time you were 28? And, at this point, you're wondering why I'm asking you this question? Well... that's Sana Afouaiz's age! Doesn't that just blow your mind?