UAE YouTuber to empower women
Hayla TV creator joins six other women as UN 'Change Ambassadors'
At 15, Syrian expatriate, Hayla Al Ghazal, was an introvert teenager silenced by severe shyness. Now, five years on, with more than 600,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel 'Hayla TV', she has just been appointed the UAE's 'Change Ambassador'.
"I was fed up of being the shy girl, so I set a goal to change it. I got ambitious and I found my voice," she told Khaleej Times.
On Wednesday, YouTube announced the launch of its partnership with the United Nations, which aims to support and empower a diverse mix of female role models and storytellers.
What is the Change Ambassadors programme?
Noted as the 'Change Ambassadors', Hayla joins six other women from around the world who will now embark on a journey to empower female creators on the popular video-sharing website.
Aptly launched ahead of International Women's Day (celebrated on March 8), the initiative is part of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign.
And for Dubai-based Hayla, the honour is all hers. "We are the first group of women on YouTube to become part of this UN partnership. I feel privileged to have my message heard on such a globalised scale."
20-year-old Hayla - who is one of the largest female YouTube creators in the Middle East - said her message to women has always been the same. "Feel empowered, be ambitious and speak out."
And though she now has title of 'Change Ambassador', she said she will change little about her approach on YouTube. "I will continue to stay true to my personality and upload the videos I have always uploaded. I use lighthearted humour to shed light on certain issues women face in our society and that keeps my audience interested."
Since launching her channel at the age of 18, Hayla has built a strong family of fans who regularly tune in to catch her lifestyle and entertainment videos.
Now she uses her popularity to connect with young Arab females on issues that are relevant to them and their culture. "I've always been passionate about empowering women and giving them the confidence that it took me 15 years to get."
She said she has faced a lot of challenges being a "young Arab woman". After pursuing part time work in the media at the age of 15, Hayla said initially she received some criticism for it.
"My parents have always been supportive of me. I always had equality in my home life but when I started working and people started questioning it, my parents told me 'that's just society'."
But although other people abide by this mindset, Hayla said it wasn't for her. "I guess I checked all the wrong boxes and diverted away from the norm, but that is who I am."
The year-long partnership will see the new Change Ambassadors go on UN organised field trips and creating video content on their channel that promotes gender equality around the world.
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