By Nada El-Margoushy
On the occasion of the Women Professionals Summit 2023, which took place in the Nile Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Sunday, March 12, the Top 50 Women Forum honored Egypt’s most influential female role models.
During the event, we sat down with Psychotherapist Sara Aziz, one of the nominees, who was later awarded for her remarkable achievements in 2022.
As Founder and CEO of “Safe Egypt”, an Egyptian organization that offers psychological services and advocates against all forms of child abuse, Sara talked about her initiative and shared her success story with the forum by answering some questions about her life and career.
How did you feel when you knew you were nominated to receive such a prestigious award and be honored among the most influential women this year?
I was truly touched and humbled to be selected among such high-level calibers who accomplished so much in Egypt. This award is such a great honor, as it recognizes and validates my team’s work and assures us that our work is seen and appreciated, which will undoubtedly inspire us and keep us going.
What inspired you to pursue this career?
I started doing this nearly 12 years ago, when I first founded “Safe Kids Egypt” in 2012; the name later changed to “Safe Egypt”, as we wanted to expand and include other pressing issues related to the Egyptian family.
Our main focus is child abuse, including bullying, sexual harassment, and violence in general. Through our sessions, we do our best to reshape this upcoming generation and the ones that follow to be aware and confident and understand their rights, worth, and capacity. They must know that their feelings are always valid.
You said you expanded your organization to include the Egyptian family; would you please elaborate on that?
Well, yes, sure. After around six years of focusing on Egyptian kids, we realized that in order to raise a psychologically healthy kid, we have to ensure a safe environment, starting from the family. So, we decided to broaden our focus circle to include all the crucial topics associated with the Egyptian family.
Moreover, we came up with various family games and activities that encourage family bonding in an attempt to give the kids a safe environment and the courage to speak up, express themselves confidently, and more importantly, confide in their families whenever they’re being bullied or subjected to any type of harassment. Only by earning their trust will we be able to find solutions to help them.
What sort of games did you create? And is it available for purchase?
Our most prominent game is “SAFEELINGS”, we initially created this game to play with kids within our sessions, but when we saw its major success, we thought why not sell it so everyone can enjoy and benefit from its positive results? As I said before, Safe Feelings, like other games we created, is a card game that includes a set of activities, through which kids can play and bond with their families.
Safe Feelings aims to teach kids different ways to express their feelings, break outdated stereotypes, like “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Girls Can’t Be Strong and Independent”, normalizes expressing yourself, elevates emotional intelligence and awareness, and promotes healthy communication.
When parents share their feelings and tell children about their day and problems, they will learn that it is okay to share theirs too.
The game is available on our online store, Amazon, and other platforms.
Your career sounds extremely rewarding, but did you face any obstacles? Tell us how you overcame the obstacles and give us a message for the young generation!
Of course, I faced obstacles; our Arab society is full of challenges that you have to overcome in order to achieve any kind of success. However, in my case, I was blessed to be raised in a healthy environment; my parents always supported and believed in me. They told me I could do anything and pushed me to go the extra mile and do more.
I grew up knowing and believing I’m capable of achieving absolutely anything I put my mind to, so even when people discouraged me or didn’t believe in me, it didn’t affect me much, and I easily moved forward and focused on my goals.
We need to know that the environment we grow up in plays a crucial role in shaping our minds and building our confidence; we’re always going to get backlash and negativity from society, but with our family’s support, we can conquer anything.
As for my message, I believe that in order to succeed you should always surround yourself with the right people who won’t hesitate to support you, push you to take the leap and make the right choices, and guide you through every step of your success journey.
You should also set your goals and go straight after them. Do not get distracted or scared, and avoid discouragement and negativity at all costs.
Do you think Egypt gives enough credit to women and their societal and economic role in building our community nowadays?
Yes, of course, I can already see a huge change; the progress we have been witnessing over the past few years is very clear. And yes, there’s always room for improvement, and we still have a long way to go to achieve ultimate equality and completely liberate women, but we have to admit we’ve come a long way, and I feel very optimistic about the future and where things are going now.
Finally, what are your thoughts regarding the Top 50 Women Forum’s role in highlighting women’s achievements and their transformative role in developing our society? And do you have any suggestions for more initiatives we can look into?
I think Top 50 has already done an outstanding job promoting women’s empowerment and highlighting their success stories. I am overjoyed and impressed by the keynote speakers and their fruitful panel discussions. They presented new and original ways to spread awareness, answered questions, and set amazing examples. They truly are influential role models who inspire us and give us the hope we need to reach success.
I do have a small suggestion; I think Top 50 can pick 5 or 6 examples of the members each year and make a short film or documentary, showing glimpses of their everyday lives, problems, obstacles they face, and how they overcome them. These documentaries could also include their insights and useful advice so the new generations could visualize success, learn its process, and see that it is indeed attainable, not such an impossible dream.
Concluding our exclusive interview with this celebrated lovely award winner, we hear by, at the Top 50 Women Forum, wish Sara further success and the best of luck in her future endeavors.
Sara Aziz receives the Top 50 Women Award and poses for a photo with Top 50’s Dina Abdel Fattah, EU Ambassador Christian Berger, and NCW’s Maya Morsi