"Feminism and women's rights look different depending on where you were born and raised, but the goal is always the same." - Taffan
Our Ambassadors of the week are Taffan Ako Sharif, founder of Taffans Insamlingsstiftelse Till Stöd För Flyktingar (TISFF) and Lina Khalifeh, founder of SheFigher, who have partnered up to empower women from various backgrounds, sharing stories with one another during a self-defence class.
Even though Taffan works “hard every day for a better society" for the Swedish and refugee people, not everyone shares the same values and vision as her. It was not long ago when Taffan experienced a racist physical assault by two men, during an evening walk. Taffan wrestled with one of the two men who had grabbed her neck from behind, using her knowledge of self-defense to elbow the attacker in the stomach. Her forehead was hit with a rock, thrown at her by the other man, which Taffan retaliated to with a kick to the genitals. The two attackers later ran away, leaving Taffan shaken but physically well with a few small wounds and a ripped shirt.
With her strengthened conviction to empower women, Taffan turned to Lina who founded the 1st Self-Defense Studio for women in Jordan and the Middle East. SheFighter is designed to empower women both physically and physiologically through self-defense training. To date, SheFighter has trained over 12,000 women.
Both women strongly believe that efforts to treat violence against women must take protective approaches into consideration, which is why they collaborated to hold self-defence classes for Swedish women and new refugee arrivals. After Taffan's experience, she was more motivated than ever to protect and support immigrants, especially women, to assimilate better into Swedish society. With Lina's experience in self-defence training, the two knew they could use their convictions to empower an entire community.
Throughout her entire adult life, Taffan has been an active refugee campaigner, raising awareness and assisting refugees and women who have, in the recent years, fled from ISIS. Being a political refugee herself, Taffan knows first-hand the struggle of being displaced and the difficulties asylum seekers and refugees face with integration in a foreign country. Based in Sweden, after fleeing with her mother from Kurdistan at a young age, Taffan still travels between the two worlds she knows as home, educating each country with another perspective on the refugee crisis. Her foundation, TISFF, provides refugee camps in Kurdistan with necessities to support victims of the ongoing war in neighbouring countries, Syria and Iraq. TISFF also focuses on assisting refugee families in Sweden, who are displaced, with integration projects, so that women and children could mix easily into Swedish society.