When she used to work as a reporter, she’d often find her reports skipped without her stand-upper, and when she asked for the reason, they’d say she’s too black, not pretty enough… Years and years later, this multi-talented reporter Wafaa AlBadry became an established journalist and Broadcaster currently based in Germany. She has been picked by Philips Beauty after her astonishing photograph by the Atlas of Beauty to share her story.
What do you think of the fact that some work environments require women to look or appear in a certain way?
This happens in a lot of places all around the world. Some cultures were able to get rid of this and others couldn’t. We have a huge problem in Egypt, everyone interferes in what women wear. What they’re wearing and how they look are actual subjects that people are really concerned with, either at work or at home.
Do you think the Journalism and Broadcasting fields in specific require a certain list of criteria on how women should look on screen?
There are unfortunately some places in the industry where looks play a huge role. It’s not just the looks, it’s women who have strong personalities and speak-up for their rights. They too face huge problems in the industry because unfortunately it’s male dominated all around the world, and that’s why we women have a lot to do! Luckily, we’ve lately seen some liberating movements from both fields. We started seeing Hijabi women in the news, the dark-skinned and curly natural heads on TV. We also started seeing hosts with special abilities and skin issues too. The world is now moving towards the direction of inclusion, so people who still follow this old mentality are stuck in the past!
What would you tell the policymakers about that?
I would say to the policy makers, if you could not cope with the fast paced development and accept change and accept women’s rights and their capability of changing the industry itself, you’ll get stuck in the past. The audience now understands everything and can see the development. So please respect people’s minds and women’s rights, and leave more freedom to women and how they look.
Do you think women are underrepresented in the Journalism and Broadcasting fields?
Yes, women and girls in the field are underrepresented. Yet, nowadays we have the phenomenon of gender washing, trying to install women in different fields. They have lacked this capacity building opportunities and hence sometimes the quality is compromised and we don’t want that. We have passed the underrepresentation phase, and now it’s time to work on the quality.
You were photographed by the Atlas of Beauty and you were later picked by Philips Beauty, how do you feel about that? And what do you think this delivers to all women of all ages and race?
I was very happy that I was helping another woman, and I felt happier that her project is successful, and even happier that my picture looked great. She’s a great photographer with a great idea to promote natural beauty. The Philips Beauty was a coincidence after the picture, it was a great tool to talk about my new life and express how I feel about my country.
Can you tell us more about your “She at Work”/ ‘Shoughl Setat’ Facebook page?
I developed the idea of she@work in DW, wanting to enhance the two- way communication with women, as I believe one way communication in journalism have become outdated. So, the DW Facebook group “She@work” is a platform designed to enable women in Arabic-speaking countries to interact with and inspire one another, exchange career advice, celebrate their achievements and debate all issues concerning their work-life balance.
What other projects are you currently working on?
One project I recently enjoyed working on is the Atlas of Arab Spring by Zenith Magazine in Germany. They produced a YouTube series and film about understanding the Arab Spring. I present the Arabic edition, but there’s a German edition as well.
Do you think there are certain challenges or risks imposed in the field for the mere reason of being a female?
The industry is very fast paced, we’re fighting on too many fronts. We want to develop, grow, be represented and in leadership positions. On the other hand, we face the usual problems that communities force on us. Women all around the world are really pressured.
What is the project that you dream of working on, but still did not get the chance to?
I’m working on too many things, performing, storytelling and photo modelling. I started learning new things in the tech industry. I’d love to work on all of these for a cause. I’d also love to work on projects for women. I’m hoping to establish a school for new media for young girls, and work on topics related to women’s rights and empowerment, economic empowerment. We’re here to leave our fingerprints, I hope I leave a fingerprint in any woman’s life.