Empowering Muslim youth through Photography

The ROSA ROYA Foundation Collaboration

In a unique initiative aimed at personal exploration and expression, IDEIS joined hands with the ROSA ROYA Foundation, a Moroccan youth women's community, to conduct a series of insightful photography courses. This empowering program was designed specifically for young Muslim women in Rotterdam and invited them to explore their identities through the compelling medium of photography.

The program consisted of two series of lessons delivered to 13 groups, encompassing around 80 female participants aged between 8 and 30 years. Our aim was to provide a creative space for these young women to engage in self-exploration, affirm their identity, and discover how they connect with their surroundings.

Owing to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the first series of lessons were conducted in-person on 15th and 29th November 2020, and the second series transitioned online from 22nd to 30th May 2021. These online sessions were held either individually or in small groups to accommodate the participants' comfort and needs.

Guided by the accomplished photographer Annegien Haselager, our students embarked on an enriching journey of self-discovery. The emphasis was on the creation of self-portraits, a powerful method that allowed the participants to be the subject, creator, and viewer of their works. They were encouraged to dig deep, question what is essential to them, and how they fit into their Dutch society as part of the larger European Union.

Haselager provided expert insights into the art of photography, including vital elements like composition, the use of light, sharpness, and the concept of the 'golden edge.' She also shared an innovative perspective on self-portraits, emphasizing that they could also be reflections of one's emotions through landscapes or street scenes.

The concept of self-portrait was defined as a fusion of three elements: "I," "Me and the other," and "Me and the world." Through this, we strived to provide a platform for participants to analyze their self-perception, societal perception, and their relationship with their environment.

The course was met with great enthusiasm and active participation. It turned out to be a transformative journey for the participants, helping them gain new insights into photography and its potential for self-expression. They engaged in profound self-reflection and developed a deeper understanding of their identities.

In conclusion, our collaboration with the ROSA ROYA Foundation reaffirms the power of photography as a tool for raising awareness about one's identity, building self-esteem, and empowering individuals in their search for identity. Through such initiatives, we hope to continue offering young people the opportunities to express themselves, fostering a sense of confidence, unity, and understanding in our diverse society.