LYRA- Inspirational Women Series with Sumaia Saiboub
KB: Salaam Sumi! To start off, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Just the general details, nothing too deep yet (we’ll get there)...
"I have come to realise that there is an insane amount of pressure on women's bodies, and on matters concerning women’s bodies, that don’t actually influence our value as an individual"
KB: What would you say your mission is as an individual, and what you feel is something you need to commit your efforts towards?
SUMI: I don’t think you can call it a mission - I don’t think I’ve done that much to be named a ‘mission’, but in these few years, I have come to realise that there is an insane amount of pressure on women's bodies, and on matters concerning women’s bodies, that don’t actually influence our value as an individual (how clever we are, how smart we are, how talented we are) - and my mission is to demise all of this in a way that future generations to come will not think that if they look a certain way or decide to way one thing instead of something else, they can’t be who they want to be. Or that they can’t choose a certain career path, and can’t do what they want to do or even achieve their dreams because of something they wear, or that they’ve been called names because of something they wear.
KB: That is amazing and so important. So I know you run a blog/platform called Ya Sisterhood (Your Abrahamic Sisterhood), can you tell me a bit about it and what your intention behind starting it was?
SUMI: Ya Sisterhood is a platform discussing not only what it means to be a woman, but a spiritual woman (specifically those following Abrahamic faiths). Through that there is an emphasis on a sisterhood between women, and focusing on our similarities as opposed to differences. So, the proper answer is that I was having a conversation with a friend who is a practising Christian, and we realised that we have much more in common than we thought. And what we wanted to build and still want to build is a community of women elevating women, despite what our differences may be. We also aim to share what it means to be a practising religious woman.
"Through that there is an emphasis on a sisterhood between women, and focusing on our similarities as opposed to differences.."
KB: That’s such a unique concept and not something that I’ve personally come across before. Where are you planning/hoping to go with that initiative?
SUMI: There’s many talks and many ideas, but at the end of the day we will have to see where it is going to take us. What we know for sure is that we would love this to get to as many people as possible, and get as many women as possible to have more genuine and deep conversations regarding womanhood and faith. It’s a platform open to all that want to contribute. We feature various blog posts about the lifestyles of practising religious women.
"It pushed me beyond my comfort zone, to talk about things I didn’t think I’d be able to in public, and to realise that many go through the same. It created a sense of unity and belonging through engagement with other women and their stories"
KB: What would you say is the greatest impact that starting Ya Sisterhood has had on you?
SUMI: It pushed me beyond my comfort zone, to talk about things I didn’t think I’d be able to in public, and to realise that many go through the same. It created a sense of unity and belonging through engagement with other women and their stories.
KB: What are you currently working on and where can we find you?
SUMI: We are currently working on a series about women’s empowerment through cross-religion scriptures, and also about stigmas that are directly related to culture but get mistaken as religion.
We can be found on Instagram as well as our website @yasisterhood, and I can be found @coveredinlayers on instagram.
KB: I know you have been quite busy with work/finishing your degree as well as all of your pursuits, so how do you strive to balance your time?
SUMI: It’s a lot of pre-planning at the end of every week for the next week, otherwise you won’t be able to get everything out of it. With the juggling between a job, classes and everything it’s almost impossible to balance it all without a good planning strategy.
KB: So a bit of a more broad and densely packed question: what do you envision as your legacy?
SUMI: A generation of women that realise they have much more in common as a whole life experience being a woman than tiny differences and details that get so often emphasized. But that are actually just meant to divide us. The idea is to make women realise we share much more in this life than we think, and we go through some of those struggles and challenges and also have our faith as our compass. Our faiths, especially Abrahamic, are very similar. In the sense that they share common core values.