From where I stand: “Be strong, don’t give up and unleash your potential.”

Manal Barham, 35, led most of her life balancing with her role as a wife and a mother, she never believed she would have the chance to become the working woman she had always dreamt of becoming. In 2018, Bahram enrolled in the beautician and project management courses provided by the Jordanian National Forum for Women (JNFW) in partnership with UN Women and with the generous support of the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund. Now, Bahram is an enthusiastic owner of her own thriving home-based salon in Hashmi Shamali, East Amman.

Date: Monday, March 4, 2019

Manal Barham, 33, applies make-up on one of her clients in her home-based beauty salon in Hasmi Shamali, East Amman. Photo Credit: UN Women/ Lauren Rooney.

Not so long ago I was suffering from severe depression. I had lost all hope after my husband chose to no longer financially support our family, which in turn drove our family into debt. However, it was at this point in my life that my burdens inspired me to take action and pursue an opportunity for work. I realized I could only depend on myself for the sake of my children…I couldn’t surrender, I had to move forward.

I applied to attend the JNFW’s Women’s Development Center, intrigued by the cosmetology and hairdressing courses that were available. In the beginning, I was scared to even touch a client’s hair, but through the support of the center, those fears were soon overcome. Soon I was thriving off of the women's smiles when they would leave the salon with a new look.

I then began to take the practical courses on project management, with the hope to gain an insight on how to run my own business. Utilizing the skills and confidence I had acquired, I decided to start up my beauty business from own home. I now have regular clients that come from within my neighborhood and even travel from far distances for my services, such as from Irbid, Karak, and Tabarbour.

I was surprised by the number of clients who would share their stories about their struggles with me, struggles similar to my own. I recognized that I was not only providing a service to make these women feel beautiful but an opportunity to make them feel inspired and empower them through my own story.

To other women facing the same hardship as me, I would say to them; you must work on yourself, be-come an independent woman, be strong, don’t give up, and unleash your potential. Now, I also provide free hair-dressing and make-up courses to women in need, with the hope of brightening their futures.

My life is now filled with positivity. I can pay for my children's education, pay off my debts and no longer rely on my husband for support. My family used to tell me that my husband should be support-ing us, but after witnessing my growth and success, they are very happy for me."