emPOWERgirls: Women as the backbone of society

June 3, 2021

In our ’emPOWERgirls Stories’ we highlight power women in UWC Maastricht’s community. This week you can read about Kiki and Iqbal. Kiki is part of our Female Empowerment Network and she is meeting Iqbal, a 20 year old student from Somaliland at UWC Maastricht.

Women are the backbone of society. Kiki Vleugels and Iqbal completely agree on that when they meet for the first time. Kiki didn’t have to think long about joining the Female Empowerment Network. Together with about 30 other women, she is committed to making it possible for five girls from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to come to UWC Maastricht every year. Once they’ve graduated, the young women can apply the knowledge and skills they learn here in their home country. “A butterfly effect,” is what Kiki calls it. “Changing the life of just one girl can ultimately have an effect on an entire community.”

That’s how Iqbal sees it, too. After her studies, she plans to return to Somaliland, where she wants to be a nurse. Healthcare in her home country leaves a lot to be desired, something she wants to change. “But before you can help others, you first have to take good care of yourself. That’s why I’m here!” She had to get used to things when she arrived in Maastricht. “At home, everyone is the same, in terms of language, in terms of religion, what people look like. At UWC Maastricht I come into contact with such a diverse group of people. Everyone here has their own story!”

Kiki agrees it can be special to be among lots of different people. “I was in an international setting during my studies. It was such a wonderful experience. It taught me to really develop an open mind and look at things from different perspectives. Therefore, I am convinced that it is very valuable for Iqbal to study at UWC Maastricht, and I am sure she will put what she learns here to good use in Somaliland. I hope that we can give many more girls the same experience, so we can really make a difference in MENA countries!”

Would you like to contribute to helping girls like Iqbal? Then let us know!

On our website you can read more about our Female Empowerment Network. Feel free to email us at advancement@uwcmaastricht.nl and we will contact you as soon as possible.

Picture by Vanessa Smit.