In celebration of womxn all around the globe, we’re focusing on femxle-owned projects from within our extended family. We start with ROOTS Berlin (Instagram), a collective that connects the dots between the BIPoC community by offering different workshops around mutual aid and solidarity. We’ll let Ola, Fily, and Naima take it from here.
ROOTS Berlin: The idea to work together came to us, Ola, Fily, and Naima, last year in summer. One of the main reasons was the intensity of the past year. During the 2020 BLM movement, we felt collective solidarity in our community for the first time. This motivated us to continue working on sustainable community-building projects.
Together with four wonderful women of color who support us in graphic design, project management, conception, and pedagogy, we are beyond grateful for our all-female team! Through our work, we aim to create spaces that foster exchange, networking, and enable the BIPoC community to come together. Currently, we create these spaces by offering Healing Circle for Women of Color and by implementing identity and consciousness-raising creative formats.
Our goal is to work internally according to the principle of mutual aid. It is a principle in which we no longer imagine ourselves as individual brands, consumers or entrepreneurs in endless competition, but as a collective connected by compassion, cooperation and the spirit of participatory democracy.
What is your definition of womanhood?
Naima: To me, womanhood means the celebration of all women. It means recognizing and accepting all our differences and our sacred sensitivity, empathy and strength.
Ola: Something which can’t be measured in degrees (having bigger breasts, giving birth doesn’t make you more of a woman). Womanhood is more like a state of mind, something which comes from within.
What empowers you as a woman?
Fily: Seeing other women thrive and support each other while growing beyond our conditioning and bias against each other. Learning to understand and appreciate each other the way we are with all of our insecurities.
Ola: Using my privilege to stand up for myself and other fellow women. Being unapologetic for who WE are, what WE want, and what WE deserve. Coming together with other women, creating, healing, growing, and shining with them.
PUBLIC NARRATIVES TEND TO EXCLUDE WOMEN. WHICH FXMALE STORIES WOULD ROOTS BERLIN LIKE TO HEAR OR SHARE MORE?
Fily: I would like for people to talk about the role men play in feminism. Men can be the allies we need to actively dismantle patriarchy, the objectification, and oppression of women. I would also like to hear more about how men and women can heal together and take better care of each other.
Naima: I would love to see more women, especially women of color, in leadership positions, in competitive sports, in popular movie productions, and so on. I want their stories to tell the world what they have achieved without the narrative being focused on their gender but rather on their greatness.
Ola: More FEMPOWERMENT. Seeing more women of color in powerful Communities of women who help one another succeed. If men don’t want to offer us a chair at their table, we need to build our own tables. Besides, ours will be more beautifully decked.
Can you name a moment that made you realize what the power of a woman is?
Fily: Many moments where I see my mother, sister in law, or nieces step up to fight back against injustice. Or simply in order to give more space for emotions, understanding and finding wholesome solutions for any given problem.
Naima: I especially see it by looking at my mum and other friends who are single mothers. They give their children endless love and support, even though they are often very exhausted, under pressure, and overloaded with work. They don’t get enough support from the state. These women keep on going and they raise their children to strong beautiful souls.
What are the main challenges that you face as a woman in our society?
Fily: Being given honest and solid opportunities without being used as a token is something I rarely experience. I want to be seen for who I am apart from my looks and what people come to expect from me solely based on what boxes they put me in without feeling the need to actually get to know me and what I am about as a person.
Naima: It’s a big challenge that in many countries we still don’t have the same rights as men. We face a mountain of challenges just because we’re women. I often feel the pressure to perform better, to do more, to not be too emotional because I might be the one pushing the stigma of women being too sensitive or weak. But in the end, I know that our sensitivity is our true strength.
Ola: Being an independent woman living in a man’s world. Being sexually harassed on a daily basis.
INTERVIEW: LARISSA CLARK
Photography: Agatha Powa
THANK YOU: ROOTS BERLIN
Curious to meet more empowering womxn? Check out Estelle and Suse.