73. Sustaining the Fight for Women’s Rights with Lina AbiRafeh

February 28, 2023

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn't cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don't personally use or believe in.

The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn’t cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don’t personally use or believe in.

Women have come a long way in the fight for equity and equality

But there is much ground still to be covered when it comes to women’s rights both locally and globally.

To better understand the landscape of the fight for women’s rights, we invited Lina AbiRafeh to join us for a candid discussion about her work as an activist and the ways we can continue to engage with the feminist movement.

What you’ll learn:

  • The state of women’s rights around the world

  • How we can support women in other countries without falling into “savior complex”

  • Why feminism is still so important

  • How to take care of ourselves when there’s so much going on in the world that demands our attention

Lina’s Links


Meet Lina

Lina AbiRafeh is committed to building a better world for women. Lina is a global women’s rights expert, author, and speaker with decades of experience worldwide. She creates innovative solutions to global women’s rights challenges. Lina worked for over 20 years as a humanitarian aid worker in contexts such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Central African Republic, Papua New Guinea, and others. Lina now works independently and advises organizations and companies in enhancing their engagement with women’s rights and gender equality. She serves as the Senior Advisor for Global Women’s Rights at the Arab Institute for Women at the Lebanese American University, where she served as Executive Director for seven years. Lina is also the founder of Yalla, Feminists! an online space and open platform dedicated to amplifying women’s voices worldwide. Lina was honored to be able to share her passion and experience in ending violence against women on global stages including her TEDx talk, Women Deliver PowerTalk, keynote address for Swedish International Development Agency annual meeting, amongst others. Lina completed her doctoral work from the London School of Economics and published “Gender and International Aid in Afghanistan: The Politics and Effects of Intervention” in 2009, based on her PhD research. Her second book “Freedom on the Frontlines: Afghan Women and the Fallacy of Liberation” was released in 2022. Her next book outlines fifty years of Arab feminism and will be published in spring 2023. Lina speaks and publishes frequently on a range of gender issues, such as the need for a feminist response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Arab women and girls. She believes women’s leadership is the strongest vehicle for peace and sustainable development. Lina’s piece I Hate International Women’s Day was among many that resonated with women’s rights activists worldwide. Her work in support of women in Afghanistan was featured on CNN, leading to a live CNN interview on this topic. She continues to advocate for women’s rights worldwide, with appearances on France24, CNN Greece, BBC, Good Morning America, and others. Lina serves on the board of numerous global women’s rights organizations including SheDecides, Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, Women Deliver Conference 2023, Forced Migration Review, Society of Gender Professionals, Global Women’s Institute, and others. Lina has received various awards and recognitions including the Gender Equality Top 100 worldwide in 2018 and 2019 and a Vital Voices fellowship for 2021 for outstanding women leaders. She was recognized by the Women’s Media Center as one of their Progressive Women’s Voices for 2021 and is featured in their database of experts. Lina is also a Women inPower fellow for 2022.


[00:00:00] Tori Dunlap: Hello Financial feminists. Welcome back. I am coming to you from the past recording this because I am taking some time off busy winter of writing the book, promoting the book, editing the book, and it’s nice to have a little bit of time and hopefully. Future me is having a good time on a beach somewhere.

[00:00:19] it’s been so thrilling meeting all of you in our cities for our book tour, and we’re so thrilled to be heading out more in the future once I’m back and rested. We’re gonna be hitting a few cities across the US to make sure to check out her first hundred k.com/events to keep up with where we’ll be next.

[00:00:34] And if you don’t see your city on that list, here’s how it goes. I need you to call your independent bookstore and they need to request that we come. This is kind of like the order of operations. So many people are like, come to my city. Come here, come there, and I would love to come meet you. However, we have to have the bookstores reach out to us.

[00:00:52] To coordinate an event. So if you do want us to come to your city, if you would like to meet me and get your book signed, have, uh, the independent bookstore of your choice, reach out to us and do a little bit of, uh, logistics, and we will hopefully be seeing you soon. Okay. Today’s episode is fundamental to understanding why I do the work that I do and why feminism is so much more than just a theory or a concept, and is a daily practice and lifelong work, and few are more intimately acquainted with that work than Lena Aberra.

[00:01:22] Lena is a lifelong Feminist activist aid worker and academic with decades long experience working on women’s rights worldwide. She’s fucking incredible. Her work has taken her to over 20 countries in the last 25 years, and she has served in a range of organizations in a senior advisory capacity, including the Arab Institute for Women at the Lebanese American University, and she sits on various international boards, including she.

[00:01:48] The Global Institute of Women Leadership, the Global Women’s Institute, and more Lena Shares about her experience immigrating to the United States as an Arab woman in the 1980s. Her work that she does globally for women and girls, experiencing violence and how we can be better advocates and feminists in our own communities while supporting women’s rights globally.

[00:02:06] We definitely dive into a few heavy topics in this episode, but Lena’s passion for her work is so infectious and is so. So important as we continue to define and redefine what feminism is every single day. Let’s go ahead and get into it,

[00:02:25] but first a word from our sponsors.

[00:02:40] Lina AbiRafeh: Do you ever come to New York? 

[00:02:42] Tori Dunlap: All the time. It’s my favorite. Do you, did you say Manhattan or where are you at in New York? 

[00:02:47] Lina AbiRafeh: Yes, I’m 

[00:02:47] Tori Dunlap: in Manhattan. I did a stint in New York like seven, eight weeks back in the spring. Cause I’ve always wanted to live in New York, but I didn’t wanna like commit, make the big switch.

[00:02:58] So I did an Airbnb in Brooklyn and Bedstuy for yeah, like seven weeks and I absolutely. It was 

[00:03:04] Lina AbiRafeh: great. Oh, it’s so beautiful. I mean, I always wanted to live in New York and after decades overseas, that’s, I figured it was New York or nowhere, as they say, and it was certainly true for me. 

[00:03:13] Tori Dunlap: Yeah. I mean, you just gave me the perfect transition, but like, tell us about your background, how you came to work in this field of women’s rights inequality and I mean, yeah, you’ve been all over the world.

[00:03:25] Afghanistan, Haiti, Papa, new Guinea. Like, tell us who you are and what you do. 

[00:03:31] Lina AbiRafeh: Well, you know, I’ll start at the beginning. I think there’s a point in so many of our lives as women and as girls, when you realize that the world just doesn’t see you as equal. So you come to understand from a very early age that the world looks upon you as.

[00:03:45] Less than, and I think I realized that at a young age as well. Uh, I am Lebanese and Palestinian by background, raised in Saudi Arabia, at least for the first 10 years. And so very early on I started to ask a lot of questions why things were the way they were or. Still are the way they are. And I didn’t put a name to it until I was, uh, a teenager.

[00:04:08] I was 14 and I was in a class called Comparative Women’s History and I thought, well, this is interesting. I’d like to learn about my own history. But what I learned about was the history of violence against women. And that’s when that inequality really was brought home for me and I. I, I can’t, I can’t sleep at night.

[00:04:25] I can’t exist unless I do something about this. And that’s when I learned the word Feminist and I took that on as my identity, as my country, as my calling, um, as a duty. And I’ve done nothing else ever since. You know, it’s been decades and I didn’t imagine I’d still have to do this work. But sure enough, here we are,

[00:04:48] Tori Dunlap: Well, and what, for you at 14, like I, it sounds like it was the class, like what resonated so much with you? Because I had a very similar thing where, you know, grew up believing of course, that like I could do anything a boy could, but didn’t really experience direct sexism until around the same age we were.

[00:05:05] I was playing for an all girls baseball team and we were beating. A bunch of the boys teams, and I remember not only the boys, the 13 year old boys hating it, but their dads, their dads who were the coaches were like so upset and like tried to sabotage us. And I remember that was like my first experience with like direct, at least that I remember with direct sexism, but I didn’t have a word for it that young.

[00:05:27] I didn’t, you know, I didn’t know that was sexist. I didn’t know truly what feminism was. So what, what about. Really adjusted your thinking or got you on this path, and why do you think it happened specifically at like 14, which I feel like is such a pivotal age. 

[00:05:42] Lina AbiRafeh: It really is because you start to notice the difference.

[00:05:45] But I think I had internalized a lot of those inequalities much younger. Uh, again, growing up in Saudi Arabia brought a lot of questions up for me about what women can and can’t do in understanding gender roles and relationships and boundaries and covering and restric. And so for me, I just, I was a constantly curious child.

[00:06:06] I wanted to know why women couldn’t go there and do that and, and say that and, and be that. Uh, and so it really started there for me, but also in school as a kid, you know, watching playground behaviors, looking at what boys get awa
y with how boys behave, how they answer questions in a classroom, how they treat women, girls, and get away with it.

[00:06:28] And so I felt like, you know, as that kind of child, Well, never the popular one, I think I was the geek in the corner. Uh, I started to take note of that and really put the vocabulary to it in this class because I saw that women were subjected to that kind of inequality manifesting as violence in all its forms everywhere in the world, all the time, in every country.

[00:06:54] So that, for me, just blew my mind wide open, and that was it. 

[00:06:59] Tori Dunlap: Was it the F, was it affirming to know that there was almost like an outside word for it or something? Because I imagine like having that experience of like, oh, this isn’t just me, or this isn’t just in my own brain. Like there is an issue with inequality across the world.

[00:07:18] Like I imagine that would feel unfortunately, like, of course, devastating, but like weirdly comforting of, oh, okay, this feeling I have I’ve experienced is not completely siloed. To me, 

[00:07:30] Lina AbiRafeh: it was infuriating. That’s what it was for me. I was in, I mean, as angry as my 14 year old. Could be, I could not imagine the extent of injustice and the, uh, the types of crimes that I was learning about that I had never heard of before, and that none of us are immune to them and they’re everywhere all the time.

[00:07:53] So on the one hand, I f yes, I did feel a little bit comforted by the fact that all of these things that I had picked up and absorbed and kind of stored in my stomach, these little angry balls, um, were not just. to carry. But I also was very sad for that because I, I think in a way, I would’ve rather that it was just my unique experience and not an entire global problem.

[00:08:19] Tori Dunlap: Totally. Yeah. You talked about like the injustices or the crimes against women. What sort of crimes against women were you learning as a 14 year old girl, 

[00:08:29] Lina AbiRafeh: I learned about foot binding and what that looked like and what that did to women. I learned about female genital mutilation, bridal burning, all forms of sexual violence.

[00:08:40] Exploitation, everything from intimate partner violence that happens everywhere all the time in every country to rape as a weapon of war. I mean, a, as a 14 year old, I’d never heard those terms, and I, I started to write papers on them and do research. And so every class I took after that, if I, if it was a world history class or an English lit class or whatever you might take as a, as a high schooler, I started to.

[00:09:07] What I now call overlay a Feminist framework onto those classes. So if we were talking about world religions, I was looking at the way religions treated women. If we were talking about world history, I was looking at women sidelined and discriminated against and kept out of historical record. So whatever classes, I attended, I was that person.

[00:09:30] I was the Feminist in the room, and so , I took that on from a, a very young age and I feel like I’ve been relentless ever since, which is what clearly led me to you, , 

[00:09:42] Tori Dunlap: which I’m so excited you’re here. I imagine we have some listeners who have just heard, okay, at 14 you were learning about genital mutilation, and I imagine there’s some people going like, that seems really young to learn that, but my response to that is, If you’re old enough, unfortunately for that to happen to you, like I think you are old enough to learn about it.

[00:10:02] like, you know, uh, young children, young girls are being sexually assaulted all you know, unfortunately all the time. And so like these graphic violent events, I imagine that was really difficult to hear, but also, I wish I would’ve known about more of that sooner. I don’t think I heard about genital mutilation until college.

[00:10:21] So, you know, I, I even, I had the immediate response of like, wow, 14, that’s really young, but at the same time, That’s who it’s happening to, 

[00:10:30] Lina AbiRafeh: even younger. I mean, for me, this was baptism by fire, as they say. And so I learned about every, I mean, from the fetus to the funeral, right? They kept nothing from us.

[00:10:39] And granted, I was in, uh, an all girls school, which was the right kind of environment for me at that time. Uh, and it was a very liberal school. And so they re they exposed us to all of it and. Thankful for it, because that was the explosion of my Feminist consciousness. That was my anger finally having a name and me finding my voice.

[00:11:02] Absolutely. That was it. That was the moment.

[00:11:12] Tori Dunlap: You were mentioning these moments of women being left out of history or being siloed or being persecuted. Do you have a particular story that really resonated with you? Was, is there one you’d like to share of a moment that you remember of like, oh, this is such, again, unfortunately a great example of the work I’m trying to.

[00:11:33] Or the work I’m trying to, I guess, go against in that way. 

[00:11:37] Lina AbiRafeh: You know, for me it’s more about the ordinary women who are left out of opportunities and have no choice and voice and access to resources and, uh, who are living their lives in very confined and restricted ways. So, Not so much about the famous women who are left out of history.

[00:11:54] Those are very important cuz we tend to not learn about women’s history. We don’t even know our own history. Um, but the reality for me and the part that’s so painful is the women whose names will never know, who perhaps are not doing remarkable things because they’ve dedicated their lives to simply survive it.

[00:12:11] So those are the women for me that I worry about the most. The ones that we don’t see and that we don’t hear about, and we have absolutely no idea what they’re going through, and they seem unfortunately, to be beyond our reach. We’re just not doing enough to help the people who need it. 

[00:12:26] Tori Dunlap: I really appreciate you saying that because.

[00:12:29] I am reminded constantly as a white woman especially of like the history that I was taught is so different than as it actually happened. And you know, I think about the suffragette movement and you know, that was lauded as you know, women’s rights and in many ways it was. But also they were actively barring black and brown people from gaining the right to vote in order for them to have the right to vote.

[00:12:54] And even like just that particular. Instance that was taught to me as like such a, you know, movement for women. It was, but also it was way stickier and grayer than that. And I, I think that that’s really important for us to keep in mind is the amount of women that we’ll never hear about either because unfortunately they didn’t get the opportunity to be significant or becaus

[00:13:20] Has forgotten them. 

[00:13:21] Lina AbiRafeh: Absolutely. I mean, there are layers of discrimination in the world as just starting to unpack and unravel all of that. And we have a long way to go. And it’s, it’s a challenge because there are so many issues and so many causes, and so many people and so many communities who are vulnerable, who are marginalized, who are minorities, who are forgotten.

[00:13:41] So I think we all have to do our part and focus on. That at least are, are nearest to us or accessible or do stand up and do something. Uh, so that’s how I started working on women and girls. And really from 14, I mean, I was already volunteering the minute I heard about the things I told you, the crimes, um, that I had finally put a name to.

[00:14:01] Uh, I started doing the work. I mean, as much as I could as a teenager and have done nothing else 

[00:14:06] Tori Dunlap: since then. Which is incredible. And our research about you, you experienced, you, you said you experienced this like cultural whiplash moving to the United States, and of course I, I know from, you know, discussing this on previous episodes, you know, having conversations with friends that, like the immigrant experience, I think especially coming to the i the United States is very common.

[00:14:27] What for you took the longest to adjust? What was that period like and, What was the whiplash that you experienced? 

[00:14:36] Lina AbiRafeh: Well, I moved to the states when I was 10, so this is the mid eighties. It was 1984. And I mean, I’m Arab, I’m Brown. Uh, that was already challenging enough coming to terms with that identity.

[00:14:50] Uh, and the labels that were hurled at me, uh, that I was a terrorist and whatever types of conversations people were having and unfortunately continue to have, and because I hadn’t ever grown up in either of my home countries, you know, I really wasn’t equipped to defend myself. I think I really understand the perspective of those who are the underdog and those who are, are bullied and feel discriminated against because I was that kid.

[00:15:15] I was the bullied kid. Um, and I was bullied on so many levels, you know enough as a young girl, also as somebody who was awkward and geeky, certainly. Um, and then, you know, having this background and this baggage and moving to the states and not understanding how things go. I mean, I never felt like I fit in and I think it took me.

[00:15:36] probably took me decades to be able to leverage that to my advantage to say, well, belonging nowhere. And that feeling of, of getting lost in all the hyphens of your identity really means that you can belong everywhere. And so that’s what I did when I started working overseas. I said, well, you know, I’m just gonna start in this place because this is as much my place as any other 

[00:15:54] Tori Dunlap: place.

[00:15:55] I would love to talk about your work a little bit more. So you’re largely. In the field of focusing on protecting women from violence after natural disasters, which is something. That, you know, to be honest, when I’m thinking about feminism is probably like lower on the list in terms of like, I don’t think about that.

[00:16:14] But of course the moment you start you realize just how deeply women are affected. So what does this look like and specifically why is this work so needed? 

[00:16:25] Lina AbiRafeh: Well, what I started out doing was just working on women and. So that was kind of my entry point. And I started very young. I was in my early twenties, um, and I wanted to do that overseas and what that led me to was working specifically on violence against women because that was the greatest need, and that was obviously where my, my passion and my anger.

[00:16:46] Was born. So u using that as the entry point, working on violence against him, and I came to understand that that is magnified is made much more serious, much more extreme, much more severe in emergency situations. So what I did was started to work in war zones and also natural disaster, but it was actually mostly in countries in conflict and post-conflict.

[00:17:08] My first entry into that world was 2002 when I moved to Afghani. So before that I had worked in, let’s say, more stable or relatively stable countries. Afghanistan, for me, was my first war zone. So throwing myself into that experience, uh, for me was incredible. It was an extraordinary time to be there. It was after nine 11.

[00:17:30] Uh, so I was, uh, quite early in my time going to Afghanistan and had no idea what I was doing. Uh, stayed there for four. Working with women and supporting them in any way that I could. I was, for the initial period running an organization, the Afghanistan Office of Women for Women International, which is an international NGO that supports women in crisis and emergency situations.

[00:17:56] So I did that and was just overwhelmed by the need. I was supporting 3000 women in the first year of operation and had never run anything like that in my life, but could not stop running, literally, because the need was so 

[00:18:12] Tori Dunlap: great. I think a lot about the realization. . Yes. I can see change in my work. Like we get peop messages from people all of the time that our work impacts them.

[00:18:22] We can see that, you know, laws are hopefully starting to change that just the, the narratives around how we consider women pursuing wealth are starting to look different. But also, I experienced this predominantly when I was writing my book, where all of this just feels so. It feels so big and beyond me, definitely at an individual level, but it’s just so big.

[00:18:49] And I had moments of helplessness of just like, what’s the point? Like truly like, yes, I know I’m seeing progress. Yes, I’m gonna continue to do this, but how do you deal with that? Because that’s something I’m struggling with all of the time of like. I am only one person, and yes, we are now a team and we have a movement and all of these things, but like I am one person with a limited amount of energy.

[00:19:10] How do you reckon that with these global problems that feel so beyond us? And beyond our 

[00:19:18] Lina AbiRafeh: bandwidth. I feel that all the time. I feel the constant sense of overwhelm and the feeling that I have zero success rate, let’s say in my job, because I cannot understandably eliminate sexual violence anywhere. I cannot single-handedly do it, nor can I do it in my lifetime.

[00:19:38] You know, I tell people all the time. , even though I wanna be cremated, I say dig me from the grave. Let me know how we’re doing because this is a long haul operation and we have to be in it forever. Otherwise we’re never gonna win it. Um, and I certainly hope we achieve it in, in, if not my lifetime, you know, the next generation.

[00:19:56] But to answer specifically, you know, I, I measure it in very small things,
um, as you probably do too. I look at the tiny successes and even maybe. An email I received from somebody saying, you know, that blog you wrote really touched something with me, and I, I need to do something about 

[00:20:12] Tori Dunlap: that. That’s all we have.

[00:20:14] Like, that’s all I have is these microcosms, these like Instagram dms and email, you know, meeting, like I just got back from Yeah, Boston, where I spoke two nights ago and you know, I had multiple women crying. Very beautifully vulnerably telling me how my work has impacted them and like that is so touching and like that for me, that’s all I have.

[00:20:35] like that’s the realization is you just have these microcosms and you, you can see the work. In a big way, but very specific with individuals or with groups of people. Yeah, 

[00:20:48] Lina AbiRafeh: absolutely. You know, and I think of women I’ve met and, and been fortunate enough to work with and have tried to work for and and support and the little changes.

[00:20:56] You know, I mean, I can tell. Small, small stories. Afghanistan is an incredible example of having moved to a place where there was so much poverty and women on the streets with their hands outstretched, begging for money with children to feed and nowhere to go and no idea how to start, and a 97% illiteracy rate, 97% at that time, 2002.

[00:21:18] Um, so, you know, what do you do? And they said, just, you know, please just gimme money. Get me training, get me a job. Tell me how I can, I can survive. So, you know, and I think of you and I think like Financial Feminist, and I love that so much because for me it is so, it’s so painfully personal. I think of these women who need to earn a living.

[00:21:36] And even if that living means here are three chickens, you can sell these eggs and then you can make some money. And that means your daughter might be able to go to school. You know, that for me is Revolut. Stuff. And it sounds small, but it is life changing. And I remember stories, you know, having experienced these kinds of things that, um, that are overwhelming because I say, okay, I might not see this gigantic, uh, uh, large scale, you know, global success in my lifetime.

[00:22:06] But if it’s made a difference for one woman in that one moment, you know, I remember another woman who came to me and said, I just want money. You just tell me, gimme a job or, or get me some training or teach me how to earn an income. I don’t care. I need to survive. I have four kids. I have no husband.

[00:22:25] We’re on the streets. I have no other choice. And I said, but you know, would you also like these other courses that we offers? Part of this program. I said, we have conversations about women’s rights. She’s like, no time for that. I said, how about literacy? No, no time for that. And I said, a All right, fair.

[00:22:41] It’s about basic needs. It’s about survival. So about six months into the program, she went through a training program, learned as. Skill. Uh, at that time they were learning how to make, this one in particular was learning how to make wicker furniture. Uh, and so she was doing that and selling pieces, and she had a little bit of a sense of security, and she came to me and she said, you know, you asked me six months ago if I wanted to enroll in a literacy class.

[00:23:08] And I said, no. I said, but I realized recently that I’ve never once written my own name. And I said, well, would you like. Try that. Just try that, and that’s all. And so we brought her into the room and had the instructor write her name, uh, in Dari, they speak in Afghanistan. And so she kind of traced over it and copied it.

[00:23:32] And wrote it a few times and everybody clapped and she cried. and I cried and it was just such an incredible moment because I realized like unless you have that kind of financial security, unless you are able to fend for yourself and. And feed yourself and your family, all of those other things are not gonna be important.

[00:23:54] Uh, she had no time to have conversations about her rights and role in the new Afghanistan back then, no time for other sort of high level stuff. Uh, but then she, when, when she was ready and when she had a, a base of support and security, you know, that for her was, um, opened up all of these. And it was an incredible moment to witness.

[00:24:16] So things like that. 

[00:24:19] Tori Dunlap: I joke, I cry every episode and I knew that this was gonna happen today. Okay, so I have to unpack that one. What a powerful story. Thank you for saying that. Uh, again, I can’t imagine not even being able to write my own name and how, I don’t even have the word for it, how you don’t even have your own identity.

[00:24:39] You don’t, you don’t have your own identity. To not have your own name or have the ability to write your own name, and so what a gift you gave her. And literally, I don’t know if I’ve heard a better story that explains the work I’m trying to do because my entire. The podcast, the company, but really like the book I was, I’m trying, the thesis of the book is me attempting to show people that when you have money, and I’m not talking Jeff Bezos money, I’m just talking like enough money that you are stable and secure.

[00:25:09] Every single part of your life changes. Every single part. And to your point, she couldn’t give a shit about the rest of it because the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs was not like learn about gender inequality in your country and like write a thesis paper about it. You can’t do that if you can’t. Provide for your family.

[00:25:28] And if you don’t know where your next meal’s coming from, like you, you 

[00:25:32] Lina AbiRafeh: can’t Exactly. And it’s the same with rape survivors. You know, when I was in Haiti, for instance, you know, all of these women who, uh, were being raped, you know, on mass. And it was, and in, and all of the countries I’ve been in, you know, that’s, it’s not exclusive to Haiti, but you know, everywhere they’ve always said, you know, I’ve said, well, okay, medical care, psychosocial support, um, you know, other types of counseling, what can we do?

[00:25:55] And. Job I wanted to, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t be in this vulnerable situation, or I’d be better able to get out of it if I had money, if I had financial security, if I had that power, if I could control my own life in choices, uh, you know, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be in this camp. I wouldn’t be, um, fetching water from miles away.

[00:26:16] I’d have water that was more accessible to me. I wouldn’t be using the latrines, you know, with my daughter that are, you know, 300 meters from here. I’d have my own. So all of that’s, you know, it, it buys your freedom, it buys your safety. I mean, what more important than that? 

[00:26:31] Tori Dunlap: And then it buys the opportunity for you to get psychiatric help or for you to, uh, have more choices or for you to be able to even think past.

[00:26:43] Again, next meal, or how am I going to provide for myself and my family th
at that unfortunately is a luxury to think past tomorrow? 

[00:26:52] Lina AbiRafeh: I mean, I, when I wrote to you all, I mean, I had this, I had a very unusual kind of Feminist upbringing despite, you know, growing up where I did. Um, but I was, uh, I was very young.

[00:27:02] I was maybe seven or eight, and my father sat me down and said, I’m gonna ask you the same question every day, and you’re gonna give me an answer. We’re gonna repeat this until you really understand what it means. And I said, gosh, all right. What’s this? What’s this big question? And he said, Lena, what’s the most important thing for a woman?

[00:27:19] And I thought, hell, if I know I’m only seven, you know, I don’t, I’m not, I dunno. And he said, the answer is financial independence. And I was like, well look, I’m seven. I don’t know what that means, you know? And he’s like, doesn’t matter. Repeat it. Repeat it. And he would ask me every day, and I would have to parrot that back to him until I really understood what that meant.

[00:27:40] And he sat me down and he said, listen, this is because you need to have the power to control your own choices. You can ch, you might not have to use, you might not have to make that money for yourself. You might not have to fend for yourself, but the ability to do so, no one can take that away from. And I thought, right, okay, I understand.

[00:28:01] And every year we went through that same kind of conversation and explanation. And every year it made more and more sense to me. And here I am at, you know, at almost 50, well, 48, but you 

[00:28:12] Tori Dunlap: know, close enough. , oh my gosh. Drop the skincare routine. You look great. 

[00:28:16] Lina AbiRafeh: It’s funny because I spend so much time thinking about like other stuff out there that I’m like, oh, what, what am I gonna grab from cvs?

[00:28:22] Like there’s no, there’s really nothing that I do, which is hilarious and terrible at the same time, especially now that I’m starting to age and realizing it. But you know, this idea of like, you will always land on your feet, and he kept telling me, you should never have to depend on someone. You should always be able to get out of a situation if you need to survive, if you need to put your skills to work, your brain is your asset.

[00:28:48] No one can take it away from you, and you can use it whenever, whenever you need. And that, for me was really the greatest lesson and I. Saw that all the time with the women that I worked with, and I thought, yeah, that’s, that’s exactly right. I mean, you know, ironic that I went into a field that really makes very little money.

[00:29:09] You know, you go into the nonprofit sector and, well, I mean, I’m sure you’ve heard of people like me. Um, so it becomes a challenge when you think like, wait a minute, you know, I do need to start making money for myself. I need to start recognizing my worth and my value. Throw an 

[00:29:22] Tori Dunlap: oxygen mask on before helping others.

[00:29:24] Yep, 

[00:29:25] Lina AbiRafeh: exactly. Exactly. You know, for me, there was no stopping me from doing this. Uh, I was absolutely determined and there was nothing that would, um, no, no amount of conversations about won’t you go to law school or how about a degree in architecture engineering. I mean, I was a one trick pony from, from day one.

[00:29:55] Tori Dunlap: You mentioned your work in Afghanistan. What are some of the systemic barriers women face in Arab countries and around the world when it comes to making meaningful change? And, uh, like literally one of the questions that my team provided for me is like, how can we help without starting a war? Like, like , we seem to be really good at helping by starting a war.

[00:30:18] And I put helping in quotes there, so like, how can we create meaningful change in that way? 

[00:30:24] Lina AbiRafeh: I mean there’s helping in the political sense and we’re gonna sideline that cuz that is beyond us. Although I do believe that the work that we do and the change that we make is political, you know, lowercase p um, but what can we do?

[00:30:37] I mean, I think first of all there are movements happening and there are, there are Feminist. And there are Feminist movements and, and women-led organizations and journalists and activists and all of that, all over the place, all the time, everywhere. So none of that stuff actually needed to be, uh, imported or imposed.

[00:30:56] It is indigenous to every place I have ever been and the places I have not been. So with that in mind, I think following those voices, listening to them, amplifying them, and they will tell us what they need. You know, I literally wrote. And in my second book, which was on Afghanistan, was entirely on that. I mean, it’s the book that could have been a tweet in the sense that I’ve said we didn’t listen to women and we should have, and if we had listened to them, we wouldn’t be in this place.

[00:31:22] Uh, and I fundamentally believe that that is true. And so right now, women’s voices in places like Afghanistan and in Iran and in the Ukraine and absolutely everywhere are telling. What needs to happen. They’re also telling us what is going. They’re like the early warning systems. They will tell us what is going wrong before it actually happens, because women’s mobility, women’s safety, women’s security, women’s freedom are for me, the indicators of.

[00:31:49] Stable and successful societies. And if things for women are not going well, if suddenly women are not, uh, out in the streets or in the market or in office or in public office or girls in school or, or whatever, there is no safety, uh, people are staying in their homes, they’re not moving around. That is a sign that society is not going in the right direction and there is research to back.

[00:32:11] To, you know, that’s my opinion. But there is also research that says that even for countries, the best chance they have of peace and prosperity and progress isn’t about your economy, the health of the economy and isn’t about the type of government you have. It’s about how the country treats its women.

[00:32:28] And there is ample evidence for peace agreements that last longer when women are involved. All of that stuff. And you look at things like, you know, places like Afghanistan where peace deals are. That not only sell out women throw women’s rights under the bus, basically. Uh, and don’t have women present at the table.

[00:32:47] You know, if women aren’t present at the table, they’re on the menu and that’s problematic. So, you know, with all of that in mind, I think on the, for those of us on the outside who watch these women’s movements and you know, who are. Part of women’s movements here. Like look at what’s happening in the States.

[00:33:02] You know, people say, wow, Afghanistan, like that sucks. And I say, yeah, well Texas, that sucks too. You know, everywhere. Like we are fighting for fundamental rights
and freedoms that we should have had and that are being reversed Gains made by our grand. That are being taken away from us. So that fight is all around us, you know?

[00:33:23] And for me, having worked in over 20 countries over these decades, uh, in extraordinary places, uh, it’s ironic to come back home to the states to see that the front lines are right here and the fight is right here. So it’s like it never ends. So, you know, what are we doing about it? You know, we’ve gotta do whatever it is within our means to do.

[00:33:46] You know, if that means amplifying causes, supporting movements, um, funding organizations, even just listening to people when they’re telling you what they need, um, I think is already critical. And already something that sounds very simple, you know, and I’ll, I’ll give you one really basic example, and it was the start of the Covid Pandemic.

[00:34:07] So in March, 2020 here in, I was here in New York, we were getting text messages from the onsite in the pandemic saying, stay home, stay safe. And I thought, Hmm, well that’s gonna be interesting because that makes a dangerous assumption that. Is safe. Well, home should be safe. But actually for a lot of women and girls, it isn’t.

[00:34:29] That is a crime and a whole other story. But the messaging itself actually didn’t listen to women. I don’t think women were consulted. So that went on, stay home, stay safe for about six weeks, and then somebody else must have gotten ahold of the text messaging and suddenly the message tone was different.

[00:34:45] And it said, well, if home isn’t. Don’t worry, call this number. Here’s a hotline. You can get help. It’s safe, it’s free, it’s confidential, whatever. And I thought, okay, that’s great. Thank you. But it’s also too little, too late. You know? Why did we not understand from the very beginning? I mean, I could have, I could have told them.

[00:35:03] You could have told them that being locked up at home while yes. There are public health reasons for that also is gonna bring certain consequences. Women who are locked at home with their abusers, new forms of abuse that are being created as a result of the situation that was, uh, perpetrated by the pandemic.

[00:35:21] So, you know, how do we not listen? To what is in effect more than half of the population, uh, when we’re designing these kinds of things. Even if it’s something as simple as text message. 

[00:35:34] Tori Dunlap: Well, and I literally posted this in our notes cuz I wanna cross stitch it on a throw pillow. If women are not at the table, they’re on the menu.

[00:35:41] I’ve never heard that. And like, wow. Yep. I mean, that’s it. And I also really appreciate too, you calling out the colonialization of support or. Right, like there is a colonialization aspect of advocacy work of, you know, I think, I think the, the most obvious example of this is like typically evangelical or a lot of like Christian Church communities going toward to Africa on mission trips or, you know, it’s like, That is in theory, helpful, but like it really does more for you and to pat yourself on the back than it does I think, to actually support those 

[00:36:25] Lina AbiRafeh: communities.

[00:36:26] You know, I think what we fail to see, you know, the, the problem isn’t the help that’s coming. You know, to other countries, those countries, those people, those women, it’s, you know, the failure to see that this is also about you and me and women here that we know, and our friends and our family, and our neighbors and our community and our schools and our offices and all of it.

[00:36:46] And when I tell people, One in three women and girls will experience some form of violence in their lifetime. That is true. And that is here, and that is now. And that is you. I mean, and if you were telling me as a woman in any country, any place, any time that you can, Freely, uncomfortably and safely walk outside of your house at night by yourself without holding your keys between your fingers so you can poke somebody’s eyes out.

[00:37:12] Uh, you know, I’d say, well, that’s, that’s amazing for you. But so many of us have to restrict our lives and curb our freedoms and, and limit our, our potential, our possibilities, limit our lives. Small lives because of our security and the problem. In addition to that being that the Our security is our own responsibility.

[00:37:35] That we shouldn’t have been out and we shouldn’t have been drinking or wearing that or talking to this person, or going to this place or alone. Or why didn’t you text somebody? Why were you doing this and that. So the constant accusations that we have to face as if we are the ones who have brought the crime upon our.

[00:37:54] it never ends 

[00:37:55] Tori Dunlap: well. And the req I’ve always talked about, and again in the book I talk about all the time, like the plain small that women are forced to do right. Or encouraged to do. And I really, again, just everything you’re saying is just like, I wish I had like a bell and just ringing a bell of like everything you’re saying.

[00:38:10] That’s fantastic, but sometimes. Like you’re exactly right. It’s less about like societal expectations of us playing small, but also literally the requirement to play small in order to be safe. I think about, like I’ve traveled alone pretty frequently and I love that, but the amount of, like, my parents are worried all the time and they encourage me not to go places, but now I’m adult and they can’t, you know, they can’t tell me no.

[00:38:37] And they are so terrifi. Sometimes rightfully so. But there is again, this expectation, like, if I go somewhere alone, what does that mean for me? Right? Or like, what is the potential danger? And there’s like been jokes by multiple comedians and like TikTok makes this joke all the time that like, especially if you’re, you know, a woman dating a man, you are literally dating your predator

[00:38:59] Like you are, you are engaging with your predator, with the person or the, the group, the population, a group a thing. Literally the most. Has the most potential to hurt you . Like it’s so crazy. 

[00:39:19] Lina AbiRafeh: Absolutely. And we have to, you know, everybody is guilty before proven innocent and that’s, you’ve gotta constantly be vigilant.

[00:39:28] And that is an ex. Exhausting way to live. You know, I keep saying, imagine your life if you didn’t have to have those restrictions. Imagine if you could go anywhere and travel and do anything and see anything and be anything without these restrictions. Imagine the kind of life you’d have, you know? And on the flip side, I say, wow, you know, imagine the kind of life I’d have if I didn’t have to do this for a living, because actually, fucked up.

[00:39:51] Is it that I have to do this for work when it should just be, as I’ve said many times before, common sense? Why do I have to have this as a job? I mean, the fact that this is so much of a problem that I have dedicated three decades to doing this. I mean, maybe I w maybe I could have been an artist who maybe I could have been an architec

[00:40:12] I don’t know. I never cultivated any other skills. Cause all I do is. 

[00:40:18] Tori Dunlap: Yeah, feels very familiar. And again, like I love this work and I, you know, this work in many ways. We’ve, we’ve, as a company made a lot of money and hopefully, you know, we’re redistributing that. But also, yeah, no, it’s like I would love to network anymore, but I feel called to this work now.

[00:40:35] Like I, I can’t just. Because what does that mean? What does that mean for everybody who’s engaging with it? Yep. Totally. Um, 

[00:40:42] Lina AbiRafeh: exactly. And now that I finished my book, one of the first things I’m gonna do is sign up for some of your courses. Oh, thank you. I’ve just launched something independent and I need to, I need to figure out how I’m gonna manage my money like a grownup Finally.

[00:40:56] Tori Dunlap: So you work with the Arab Institute for Women, and I think it’s really easy for us stateside to have very narrow views on what women’s lives are like in countries like Afghanistan or Iran, Lebanon. What are some of the most egregious mischaracterizations that you’ve seen? 

[00:41:14] Lina AbiRafeh: Well, I can tell you this, I mean, my experience, uh, in the Arab region has been over the last seven years.

[00:41:20] I mean, yes, those are my origins, but also running this institute and I left them in February and now I’m independent. But in my ti Yes, which is, which is wonderful. I still support them. I’m still their biggest champion and cheerleader. Absolutely loved this institute. And this institute itself is gonna be 50 years old next year.

[00:41:38] So I mean, To answer your question, we don’t hear any of the good news stories. We don’t hear any of the successes. We don’t hear any of the, um, the activism, the movements, the momentum. We don’t hear enough of that stuff. I mean, this institute itself is the owner of the very first Feminist Journal in the region that’s been in publication continuously since 1970.

[00:42:01] So, I mean that’s, that kind of stuff already is so very progressive. But for me, what I love, uh, about the region and what has been the subject of my third book that I submitted yesterday with my co-author, uh, is about young Arab Feminist movements because there are young women and men actually. Who are alive, ignited, angry, out on the streets, organizing in ways that are intersectional and organic, and fighting all of these issues and just not taking any more crap.

[00:42:32] And we don’t hear about those kinds of stories. So I hope actually by writing this. Book that it brings that to the fore that people say, oh, well look at this. You know, this activism is alive and feminism is, is ignited and is a movement and movement plural all across the region. And it’s not just the stuff we happen to hear about in the moment.

[00:42:51] It’s not just the, you know, Iran, uh, which has captivated our attention for about five minutes, you know, and then we turn on to the next thing. This is about continuous, um, battle on the front lines and the front lines being everywhere. You know, women telling me like I go out on the streets and I fight the patriarchy and come home and I have my dad and my brother to deal with, and that’s.

[00:43:15] The micro patriarchy, like I’m fighting battles everywhere all the time. And I think that’s great. Like this is a generation that is just not gonna put up with it. Uh, and I love that for them, but I’m so happy. Um, I wish we had given them, uh, a better world. To work in, I’m sorry. They have to continue those battles, but I feel like they’ve got a better chance of winning them and the way that they, uh, express themselves.

[00:43:40] And there’s a whole chapter in the book about art as activism. So talking to women who are street artists and musicians and using that for public protest and to make comment about society and the things that they. See that need to be changed, the things that they won’t put up with. Uh, and I think for me that is, there’s magic in that and there’s hope in that.

[00:44:10] Tori Dunlap: You have mentioned our time together. The word anger a lot, right? Feeling angry when you were a girl and starting to learn about these things. Feeling angry in your work. I know from both research and my general experience as a woman about town, that anger is not one of those emotions that we are a comfortable feeling as women, but B, comfortable seeing in women.

[00:44:36] We are not comfortable with rageful, angry women, and we are often not comfortable being rageful, angry women. I’ve experienced anger as one of my most powerful tools in my work, and I imagine you have as well. What about your experience has has been motivated by anger and how can we use anger as a tool?

[00:45:01] To better our world. 

[00:45:04] Lina AbiRafeh: You know, anger for me is the catalyst for my activism, and I think it is the cumulative effect of the microaggressions that you experience on an everyday basis. The little things that happen, the little moments where you say, Ugh, and it just sits in your stomach, you know, I feel it. I feel these.

[00:45:23] Pebbles that build up and form a rock and a boulder and a mountain, and you just want to explode and you think, if this is happening to me and if this is my experience, how much worse is it for somebody else? So, you know, when I talk about anger, and I, and I tell people all the time, I say, you know, if you look around you, when you, you pay attention, you open your eyes and you start to understand things, you know, ideally through the lens of women and.

[00:45:47] You know, you never can unsee that kind of stuff, that injustice, you will never forget it. And if you have seen it, you are ignited. You, you are alive. You have to do something about, it’s impossible not to, you know, as a, as a living, breathing person on this planet. And if you are not angry, you’re asleep.

[00:46:06] You know, you’ve, you’ve, what are you doing? How can you not be angry about that? How do you allow this to happen on your watch in your lifetime? I simply don’t. So, you know, it is about the tiny moments where you feel slighted, sidelined, ignored, dismissed, discriminated against, marginalized, you know, and those get are bigger and bigger and bigger.

[00:46:26] You know, it tends to not be as much about, uh, the giant transgressions as those little things that you see on an everyday. Basis. And that for me is where I guess that anger as a girl, uh, started to build up and meeting communities of people who were also angry about those same things and deciding that that anger for me was going to.

[00:46:50] Drive me to action. And so that’s what I tell people to do. I say, you know, you can, you don’t have to take on every social justice issue. There is a lot to be angry about. You can be angry about the environment. You can be angry about racial issues. You can be angry about all kinds of things. There’s a lot, um, you know, not to say there is a lot to be happy about because I, I generally surprisingly, lean to the posit
ive despite my, despite my anger and activism.

[00:47:17] But I say there’s gonna be one thing for you. You know, there’s gonna be something that like hits you in the stomach where you say, okay, that’s it. That’s my line. That is the thing, you know? And for me it was women and girls, and I said, this is the one thing that I am angry enough about that I cannot accept, and I cannot accept it enough that I’m going to act and I’m going to do.

[00:47:39] So, you know, that’s what I would tell people. Find that, find that thing for you. That moment where you say enough and then step 

[00:47:48] Tori Dunlap: over it. what is one? Yes. What is one thing you want somebody to take away from our conversation today? 

[00:47:57] Lina AbiRafeh: You know, I keep telling people it is all around us and you have to just see it through the lens of women and girls.

[00:48:05] Believe me like it is, if everybody stood up and did something in the, in the small spaces, they occupy. You know, I gave an entire Ted talk on this and I said, start where you stand. You don’t need to do it the way I did it. You don’t need to go off to Central African Republic. You know, most people can’t even find it on a map.

[00:48:23] Uh, you don’t need to go to those kinds of places. You actually can do it right here in your life, in your home, in your community. Uh, with your family and friends, with your peer group, you can turn to somebody in your peer group and say, you know what? Enough, no, stop. And if you do that, you know, I’m not saying police each other, but call it out because we feel it, we know it, you know, you know when somebody has crossed the line.

[00:48:48] You know when somebody is treating another person badly, and it is hard to be the person who stands up and says, stop. Don’t do that anymore. Leave her alone. But please do it. Do it safely, do it carefully, but do it because the price of staying silent, uh, that’s too big a price to. Right now with the, I’m in, I’m in what I’m calling phase three of my career, which, you know, might be the last one.

[00:49:14] Uh, so I’ve launched something independent. I don’t yet know what that’s gonna look like, but you know, the idea of, um, finding partners for creative collaborations, like, let’s collectively do something. Let’s make it meaningful, but let’s, let’s reach beyond the echo chamber. You know, there is, as I see it, there’s a big group of people somewhere in the middle.

[00:49:34] You know, we’ve got the entrenched. That’s tough. We’ve got the people who are like us, that’s great, but we’ve got the moveable middle. There’s a lot of squishy in the middle. Let’s find ways to work better with those people. Let’s find ways, you know, now after a lifetime of nonprofit work to work with, uh, the private sector, to work with a different audience, to be able to reach wider to mainstream.

[00:49:58] This, you know, I, I constantly challenge myself. I think. How did something like. You know, wearing a seatbelt. How did that messaging get across? Like our parents, you know, they never wore seatbelts. Right? That just, that wasn’t what you did back then. I, nobody thought of it. They were there. Never thought of 

[00:50:15] Tori Dunlap: it.

[00:50:15] Now we’re like smoking, right? Like everybody smoked. Right. . Everybody’s social change is 

[00:50:20] Lina AbiRafeh: possible. Behavior change is possible. We see it all the time. But what is that magic thing? What’s the moment? What’s the recipe? What’s the secret? It is, it’s about mainstreaming it in ways where you just can’t ignore it.

[00:50:31] And now, you know, you or I, I imagine, can’t get into a car without automatically whoop, you know, you buckle up. It’s just your arm does it without your brain thinking it. How do we do. . 

[00:50:43] Tori Dunlap: But let’s talk about that actually for a second though, because I think a, again, I did not live in the time, you know where, where smoking was a thing and then it was, you know, largely eradicated.

[00:50:52] There’s still plenty of people who smoke. There’s still plenty of people who don’t wear seat belts, right. But like the vast majority of people do. And I think about like, Masks and how it was so still is so goddamn difficult to get a certain group of people to wear a mask. And you know, I imagine, and I’d have to go, you know, research this, that the idea of wearing a seatbelt or.

[00:51:15] You know, stopping smoking was one, you’re going to be healthier for it, right? Like the risk to your life goes down. And two, the risk to other people’s lives. Rather, you know, secondhand smoking, somebody getting hit by a car and, and being injured or dying, that goes away as well. So it’s like somewhat selfish, but also empathetic.

[00:51:35] There was not even selfishness when it came to masks. Like people wouldn’t even do it for their own. Health yet alone. The health is somebody else. Are we in the time where like empathy and, and even selfishness is like not a good enough tool anymore? 

[00:51:53] Lina AbiRafeh: You know, it’s hard to say because, you know, at the same time I see, uh, you know, I see both sides of it.

[00:51:58] I see people who exercise great empathy and who really care for each other and who could, are concerned and who want things to be better. Um, I think maybe they don’t know how, you know, there’s a lot of, of questioning around that. Like, you know, aside. Being angry out in the streets or, you know, using social media, which has its pros and cons.

[00:52:18] Um, you know, concretely, what can people do? Uh, I think, you know, that is, that continues to be a challenge. But I wanna think we’re getting better. You know, I’d like to think that we are now starting to pay attention. We see that we are connected much more. We see that these issues are all around us. We see that, uh, public health crises don’t stay confined within their.

[00:52:39] Right. We’ve learned that lesson. Uh, wars don’t say confined within their borders. You know, even if it is not your war, in a way, you know, if you are funding it, supporting it, engaged in it, if people are moving, people are migrating, they’re coming here, they’re looking for, you know, it is yours, it becomes yours, you know?

[00:52:56] So we are, um, we are each other’s caretakers in many ways now. And I, I’d like to think, I’d like to think we’re understanding that a little bit. 

[00:53:07] Tori Dunlap: Oh, and I don’t mean to say like there’s no empathy in the world, right? But we have a certain group of people where like, that doesn’t seem to connect or like, I mean, climate change is another great example of like, it is so pressing of, there will not be a world in, I mean, I don’t know the year now, but like we’re getting, we’re getting to the precipice of like, if we don’t get our shit together in the next couple years, like there is no world and.

[00:53:30] I would argue actually
their selfishness in that regard is preventing them from seeing anything. Right? Because I don’t think there’s any one, there’s the, the denial of science, but also like, oh, well I’ll have a world so it doesn’t matter that somebody else won’t. So I’m, I’m, I’m reckoning those issues too with, again, we see beautiful, you know, incredible movements around protecting our world and protecting land and protecting land and, and resources for the future.

[00:53:58] I also, Mitch McConnell . So like, uh, it’s, I don’t know. I don’t know how to reckon like there’s so many and I am, I am, I agree with you. I am an optimist. Like I truly do try to see the good, as much good as I can in everybody. I also, yeah, see all the bullshit as we all do. And I think that that’s really interesting of like, there’s a lot of people doing a lot of good, there’s also a lot of people directly contradicting it.

[00:54:27] Lina AbiRafeh: That’s true. And I find that the more I focus on that, you know, I then it’s just becomes too big for me. And I think, you know what, forget all of that. And what can I do today? You know, can I do something small today? And that’s to, to be honest, that is the only way that I’ve. Survived. Like if I have something to say, you know, I’ll, I’ll say it and I’ll ignore all the comments.

[00:54:47] There’s always all the negative comments. I’ll, I’ll try and do the things I feel like need doing better than not doing them. What’s the alternative? You know, for me there isn’t a choice. It’s, you know, if I feel like something needs to be done or said or supported or amplified, I will just. Do it. Um, and then accept the risks of that and try and ignore those who, who don’t agree, I think is the only way to keep going.

[00:55:10] Otherwise, we drown in the negative voices and that, you know, that’s enough to stop you. You know, they become, it really, it can be really toxic and also can be somewhat scary. So I think the, the less I focus on that for my own sanity, the better. . 

[00:55:27] Tori Dunlap: Thank you for your work. Thank you for this conversation. Uh, I, wow.

[00:55:33] That’s all I can say. I’m speechless. You’re absolutely incredible. Uh, where can people find you and connect with? 

[00:55:40] Lina AbiRafeh: Well, um, if you can spell my last name, you can find me. I’m very easy to Google. Um, I’m across all social media. Um, I think that’s, you know, who knows how that’s gonna evolve, but for now I am.

[00:55:53] And I have a website. It’s lena afi.com and people always write to me with questions and ideas, and I would, I welcome that. Please. Do you know if you, if you need. Inspiration for how to start, where to start, what to do. Uh, I absolutely welcome and encourage that because, you know, paralysis is not a response.

[00:56:13] Um, and overwhelm is understandable, but even small action is meaningful and that has accumulative effect. You know, I keep saying if you do something good and you demonstrate that kind of good behavior, , you know, those things are behaviors contagious, so you might as well make it good and you don’t have to go far to do good.

[00:56:32] You can do it right here in the very small spaces. And I think it’s, it’s easy and it’s within our reach to do it 

[00:56:39] Tori Dunlap: well, and I think about the ripple effect too, with the example you gave of the Afghani woman of like, She’s now able to provide for her family and potentially her community, and even just like a neighbor next door and then that neighbor provides for somebody else and like it changes, has the impact to change the entire community.

[00:56:57] And then communities change in the world starts to change. So thank you for your work. 

[00:57:01] Lina AbiRafeh: Absolutely. Thank you for your work. I love it there. We have so many things in common, it’s just we’ve gotta connect these dots. 

[00:57:10] Tori Dunlap: A huge thank you to Lena for joining us. Please make sure to check her and her workout.

[00:57:14] We’ve linked everything in our show notes, and if you’re enjoying this podcast, please share your favorite episodes with your friends, share ’em on social media. It helps people continue to discover the show and helps us create the show and produce the show for you all. You can go to Financial Feminist podcast.com for more.

[00:57:29] We always do extended research on. I’m a guest topic, so if you wanna dive deeper, great place to go. You can also follow us on Instagram at Financial Feminist podcast. If you’re wondering where to get started with your financial journey, you can go to her first hundred k.com/quiz for personalized resources depending on your financial situation.

[00:57:47] As always, we’re so thankful for you and we’ll see you back next week. Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist a her first hundred K podcast. Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap, produced by Kristen. Marketing and administration by Karina Patel, Cherise Wade, Alina Heller, Paulina Isaac, Sophia Cohen, Valerie Esco, Jack Coning, kil Duaz, Elizabeth McCumber, Beth Bowen, and Amanda La.

[00:58:12] Few Researched by Ariel Johnson, audio Engineering by Austin Fields. Promotional Graphics by Mary Stratton, photography by Sarah Wolf, and theme music by Jonah Cohen. Sound a huge thanks to the entire her first hundred K team and community for supporting. For more information about Financial Feminist, her first hundred K are guests and episode show notes.

[00:58:31] Visit Financial Feminist podcast.com or follow us on Instagram at Financial Feminist podcast.

Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap is an internationally-recognized money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over one million women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.

Tori’s work has been featured on Good Morning America, the New York Times, BBC, TIME, PEOPLE, CNN, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, BuzzFeed, and more.

With a dedicated following of almost 250,000 on Instagram and more than 1.6 million on TikTok —and multiple instances of her story going viral—Tori’s unique take on financial advice has made her the go-to voice for ambitious millennial women. CNBC called Tori “the voice of financial confidence for women.”

An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.

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