Wafaa Maali: sweeping away prejudice

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In the traditionally patriarchal society in the south of Tunisia, it seems that certain professions are reserved purely for men. Wafaa Maali, 30, is sweeping away these prejudices. In her first video, Nasaween ("group of women"), she profiles women for whom work has no gender. Profile by Bérengère Merlot.


Sabrine Saadalah, 20, appears on the screen with a white hard hat perched on her head and a courageous smile on her young face. She is riding her bicycle. We follow her to the primary school in the city of Kebili in southern Tunisia. She is tiling a classroom .

It's not easy to break the mould, says Wafaa Maali of the conservative culture in southern Tunisia, where she also comes from. She explains that the idea behind the series is to shift mindsets when it comes to gender equality and to encourage the acceptance of women into non-traditional occupations

Like Sabrine, Wafaa is an independent and courageous young woman. She has truly outdone herself with her contribution to Intajat Jadida project. Since she had never made a video before, she received training from CFI: pitching, scriptwriting, choosing music. The basic concept is not her own: it was entrusted to her by a colleague. She named the series Nasaween ("group of women"). And for good reason.
She is a rebellious woman in the best possible sense. She does her best to counter the outdated traditions that we have grown up with, observes Wafaa's best friend, Khaoula Esghaier, 30, a Tunisian woman living in Turkey. Wafaa also has her own personal link to this subject. Her aunt, Doria Maali, who is in her fifties, helps to harvest dates in the large forest owned by the family in the region by climbing the date palms. She is constantly battling disapproving looks and rumours. She is very proud of her job, explains Wafaa.

She does her best to counter the outdated traditions that we have grown up with.
Khaoula Esghaier,
30, a Tunisian woman living in Turkey

Don't be scared. Just do it

As for Wafaa, she started studying English at the University of Monastir before completing her studies in 2019 at the Higher Institute of Languages of Gabes. She spent three years teaching at a private primary school in Kebili before applying for a position as an Arabic to English translator at Nefzawa TV and Radio in October 2022.

Mondher Ben Ibrahim, 36, director and colleague of Wafaa's at this media outlet, who broaches a number of subjects involving women and minority groups, is her mentor. He believes in this fiercely intelligent, highly disciplined and creative young woman. She was very fearful at first, but she gained confidence. I said to her: 'Don't be scared. Just do it!'
Nasaween is delighted by the way Wafaa has blossomed into a woman dedicated to her cause.
It's not like her to want to leave her comfort zone. I was blown away by her work for Intajat! She succeeded in a field that was unfamiliar to her and she surpassed herself, enthuses Khaoula.

Mondher is convinced that Wafaa will push boundaries with her videos. Her next video will profile another woman who has launched her own car cleaning company. Another account of prejudice being swept away.