“You belong to the kitchen,” a statement that often enrages women all around the globe, usually meant to imply submissiveness and dependence, and probably leading to zillions of discrimination cases. Defying this conception, the Jordanian consulting agency, Seven Circles has been using cooking as a method of women empowerment, and published the best-selling book EWC– Jordan to promote that.
Established in 2016, Seven Circles agency is a one-stop-shop agency offering services to startups, multinational, corporations, non-profit organizations, government entities, and UN agencies.
“We realized we were destined to work together to serve our clients, with the common purpose of building a kinder world,” says Co-founder Dina Saoudi, explaining how she and her partner AbdulMajeed Shoman came up with the idea.
The agency depends on the empowering through model, adopting an ecosystem approach to empowerment. The ecosystem in this context refers to the different stakeholders: aid agencies, the private sector, the public sector, academia, impact funds, and civil society. All working together to empower the individual both economically and socially.
“I believe that every woman is already empowered. Our responsibility is to empower a system so we can recognize them and appreciate their talents,” says the inspiring mother- of- two.
One implementation of the empowering through model is cooking using the cookbook Jordan, sharing the stories and recipes of 54 women with diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds living in Jordan. These women included a refugee, a stay-at-home mom, an expatriate, and a senator. A percentage of the profit goes to international and local organizations that combat hunger such as the UN World Food Program. This way, the book contributes to ending hunger on both levels.
“The connection between cooking and social empowerment happens when women, regardless of their background, have a passion for cooking and are connected to an ecosystem that provides them with a space to express themselves by sharing their personal stories and talent,” she adds. At the same time, the connection to economic empowerment happens as the women gain the know-how and access to resources necessary to turn their passion for cooking into viable revenue streams.
Other empowering women through cooking initiatives have been implemented in more than ten countries worldwide. Not only did they focus on the book, but the project is also meant to hold specialized workshops and produce short films featuring the original contributors to the cookbook to allow the audience to visit their kitchens and get to know them.
“I believe all women need to be heard and to have the opportunity to do what they love to do. Our responsibility is to make sure everyone is included. In doing so, we will no longer have “less-privileged” women ever,” Dina states.
Dina believes there is no difference between Women from the West and Arab women. “I lived in San Francisco for 10 years and Chicago for 5. I’ve met women all around the world who wanted to be heard and loved without judgment and wanted to have the opportunity to be paid to do what they love,” she adds.
Seven Circles has expanded to become a global company in different countries in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the United States.