In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re excited to present a series of profiles on incredible women innovators. At Fahrenheit 212, we believe that the exchange of ideas and inspirations is a crucial piece of the innovation equation. We hope that each profile we share serves to inspire you to not only join us in celebrating the accomplishments of women innovators, but also to inspire your own thinking.
This week, we profile Esra’a Al Shafei, Founder of Majal.org.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Esra’a Al Shafei and I run Majal.org, a Bahrain-based organization run by Arab women who develop platforms that amplify the voices of underrepresented communities.
Why do you do what do you do?
Because it’s our responsibility to stand up for social justice.
What are the life moments that most influenced who/where you are today?
As a child, I was shocked by the inhumane treatment of immigrant workers that I witnessed, and a sense of outrage and injustice grew in my heart. Increasingly frustrated by the amount of censorship and state controlled media which promoted prejudicial stereotypes of countless ethnic and religious minorities, I turned to the power and influence of the internet to respond with my own voice. That became my life’s work.
What is the first thing you do every morning? The last thing at the end of every day?
The first thing I do is make karak tea. The last thing is a tie between writing a lengthy email to a team member or speaking to my partner.
What do you never leave the house without and why?
My headphones, because it’s the perfect way to shut out the world when it becomes obnoxious.
What is the last book you read and why?
The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun, for maybe the third time. It's really a fantastic snapshot of what innovation is, what it isn’t, and how to approach the concept as a creative person.
What is your favorite app?
What is your greatest life hack?
Using binder clips to fix broken keyboard stands.
What is the funniest thing that happened to you recently?
Trying to convince my mom not to buy a neon yellow tracksuit for my 70 year-old father.
What do you think will be the next big wave in innovation?
Terrifyingly enough, I suspect we’ll be seeing a huge advancement in real-time facial recognition technology.
What product, service, or industry do you think is most ripe for innovation?
The music industry and protecting independent musicians in particular from rampant corruption and exploitation.
What makes a great innovation?
Risk lovers with a passion to experiment and the courage to go against the grain.
What do you think the biggest disruption of the next year will be? What should we have our eye on?
I think we're in for some surprises next year in cloud computing, data and analytics, and in particular its usage by government agencies. I’m not pessimistic, but we need to genuinely prepare for the worst case scenarios we spoke about 10 years ago.
What is your favorite quote?
“Do no harm, but take no shit” -Unknown
Esra’a does not circulate photos of herself for security reasons.