Bringing Humor & Diversity to Netflix with Gena-mour Barrett

For the fifth episode of We Belong Podcast, we go to the UK to meet Gena-mour Barrett, a journalist and Editorial Creative Manager at Netflix UK, where she curates the Netflix IX interview series. 

As a freelancer, Gena-mour has bylines at Elle, The Guardian, Refinery 29 and BBC Newsbeat. She was listed as one of 2019’s 30 Under 30 for Media and Marketing in Europe by Forbes and was a recipient of the 2018 Roxane Gay fellowship for a woman of colour writing fiction with Jack Jones Literary Arts.

In our conversation with Gena-mour, we dive into her personal story, her childhood in South London and her passion for writing.

We also discuss humour and satire in the media, representation and diversity in the entertainment industry and, of course, her views on Brexit!

Episode available on Apple PodcastSpotifyAnchorYoutube and at the bottom of this post.


We Belong is the podcast that gives a voice to the New Daughters of Europe. Yasmine Ouirhrane, appointed expert by the European Union and the African Union, hosts this series of conversations with young women who represent the diversity of Europe. She talks to women who are breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to belong.

As an advocate for social and gender justice in Europe, Yasmine Ouirhrane was awarded Young European of the Year 2019 by the Schwarzkopf Foundation. She was also named EDD Young Leader by the European Commission and is an expert on Peace & Security at the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub. She is an award-winning fellow at Women Deliver and a member of the Gender Innovation Agora at UN Women.

The Podcast is produced by Les Cavalcades.

Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Míriam Hatibi on Activism Against Islamophobia

For the third episode of We Belong Podcast, we take you to Spain to meet Míriam Hatibi. Míriam is an activist against racism and islamophobia and the author of ‘Look Me in the Eye’ and ‘Leila’.

Activist and author, Míriam Hatibi

She also contributes to the opinion sections of several publications, where she promotes a visible media presence for people of diverse origins, particularly women.

Following the August 2017 terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, Míriam vehemently condemned terrorism at a demonstration in Plaça de Catalunya that brought together hundreds of Muslims. Since December 2014, she has been the spokesperson for the Ibn Battuta Foundation (FIB), an entity created to promote socio-cultural exchange.

In our conversation, Miriam recalls her reaction to the terrorist attacks and tells us about her work to deconstruct islamophobia and stereotypes surrounding muslim people. She also talks of her ambition to create new spaces for immigrant daughters to shine in society.

Episode available on Apple PodcastSpotifyAnchorYoutube and at the bottom of this post.


We Belong is the podcast that gives a voice to the New Daughters of Europe.  Yasmine Ouirhrane, appointed expert by the European Union and the African Union, will host this series of conversations with young women representing the diversity of Europe. She will travel and meet women who are breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to belong. 

As an advocate for social and gender justice in Europe, Yasmine Ouirhrane was awarded Young European of the Year 2019 by the Schwarzkopf Foundation. She was also named EDD Young Leader by the European Commission and is an expert on Peace & Security at the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub, mandated by the EU and the AU. She is an award-winning fellow at Women Deliver and a member of the Gender Innovation Agora at UN Women.

The Podcast is produced by Les Cavalcades.

Follow We Belong on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Bellamy on Amplifying the Voices of Afroitalians

For the second episode of We Belong Podcast, we take you to Milan, Italy – the country currently worst affected by the coronavirus. We recorded a special remote interview with Bellamy, a model, blogger, activist and the founder of Afroitalian Souls.

Bellamy was born and raised in Italy in a half Ugandan and half Sudanese family. Her interests range from fashion and skincare to international politics. She became increasingly passionate about socio-cultural issues, particularly on the experience of the black body in different countries. While researching this, she felt called to take action in Italy.

With her friend Grazia, she created Afroitalian Souls: a digital platform that promotes the excellence of the African diaspora in Italy while simultaneously bringing awareness to the endless social and racial issues they face.

In our conversation with Bellamy, we discuss the impact of Covid-19 in Italy, the structural and cultural forms of violence that black Italians face, and how she uses sarcasm and style to amplify the voice of Afroitalians on social media.

Episode available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Anchor, Youtube and at the bottom of this post.


We Belong is the podcast that gives a voice to the New Daughters of Europe.  Yasmine Ouirhrane, appointed expert by the European Union and the African Union, will host this series of conversations with young women representing the diversity of Europe. She will travel and meet women who are breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to belong. 

As an advocate for social and gender justice in Europe, Yasmine Ouirhrane was awarded Young European of the Year 2019 by the Schwarzkopf Foundation. She was also named EDD Young Leader by the European Commission and is an expert on Peace & Security at the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub, mandated by the EU and the AU. She is an award-winning fellow at Women Deliver and a member of the Gender Innovation Agora at UN Women.

The Podcast is produced by Les Cavalcades.

Follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Inès Seddiki on Social Justice in the French Suburbs

For the first episode of We Belong Podcast, we travelled to France to meet Inès Seddiki, founder of GHETT’UP.

Inès is a young French-Moroccan activist and Corporate Social Responsibility professional living in the suburbs of Paris. In the 1980s, her parents immigrated to France in pursuit of ideals of liberty and equality. However, Inés faced injustice from a very young age, and it motivated her to take action. Since 2016, Ghett’up has impacted more than 2,000 young people in the suburbs of Paris.

In our conversation with Inès, we discussed the importance of owning our story and identities, what it means to grow up in a suburb and how to turn stigma into strength.

Episode available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Anchor, Youtube and at the bottom of this post.


We Belong is the podcast that gives a voice to the New Daughters of Europe. Yasmine Ouirhrane, appointed expert by the European Union and the African Union, hosts this series of conversations with young women who represent the diversity of Europe. She talks to women who are breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to belong.

As an advocate for social and gender justice in Europe, Yasmine Ouirhrane was awarded Young European of the Year 2019 by the Schwarzkopf Foundation. She was also named EDD Young Leader by the European Commission and is an expert on Peace & Security at the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub. She is an award-winning fellow at Women Deliver and a member of the Gender Innovation Agora at UN Women.

The Podcast is produced by Les Cavalcades.

Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

The Global Movement Against the Tampon Tax

Late last year, Germany announced it will stop taxing menstrual products as luxuries, marking them instead as necessities. Starting January 1, 2020, the sales taxes or value added tax (VAT) on these products was reduced from 17% to 9%. The change has been welcomed and celebrated not just in Germany but across the world by advocates for menstrual equity and the elimination of sales taxes that mark menstrual products as luxury items.

Jule Schulte, a German journalist who started the petition to change the VAT, was asked why she thought it took so long for this change to be made in the country. She said: “The fathers of the tampon tax never had a period.”

Campaigners and activists have argued that having a period is not a choice, and therefore menstrual products should not be considered luxury items with high taxes imposed on them.

In the United States, sales taxes vary by state. In March 2019, only ten states considered menstrual products as necessities and exempted them from sales tax. In October, that number went up to 17. Still, that is only 17 out of 50 American states exempting menstrual products such as tampons – hence the term “tampon tax” – from being considered luxuries.

The European Union allows for a reduction of the VAT on menstrual products to a minimum of 5%. This graphic shows the European countries where the tampon tax is highest and lowest.


Some countries have completed removed any sales taxes on menstrual products, such as Kenya, which blazed the trail by removing the VAT back in 2004. Australia, Canada, and India – a country where four out of five women lack access to the products they need – also have removed sales taxes on menstrual products.

In other countries, however, sales tax on menstrual products is as high as 27%, such as the case in Hungary. This graphic hows which countries have the highest sales tax for menstrual products.


For people who don’t menstruate, this may not seem like a big deal. Still, for those who do, it is huge. Particularly for menstruators who are living in poverty or experiencing homelessness, the tampon tax contributes to a phenomenon called period poverty.

As long as period poverty – a truly global issue – persists, activists around the globe will continue to fight for the end of the sexist tampon tax.

We Need Global Solidarity for Refugees

As a European and a Swede (and an economist), I am struck by how often we discuss refugees in terms of the “cost” of accepting asylum seekers.

These conversations miss out on the many economic benefits of migration. Young refugees are often so inclined to start building their new lives that they integrate quite quickly into a new country with much to offer. We also miss the most important component of the conversation – the refugees themselves.

Wars, violence and persecution lead to people fleeing from their homes. A new report released on June 19, 2019 from UNHCR shows that 70.8 million people are now forcibly displaced worldwide – more than the UN Refugee Agency has ever recorded. Levels have doubled in the past 20 years and increased by 2.3 million people in the past year alone.

This year’s UNHCR Global Trends report states that these figures are conservative since the Venezuelan crisis is only partly reflected. According to data from neighboring nations, about 4 million Venezuelans have fled the country, which makes it one of the world’s largest displacement crises in recent history.

What do these numbers actually mean? 

The majority of individuals who are forcibly displaced are Internally Displaced People (IDPs) – people who are displaced to other areas within their own country. There are 41.3 million IDPs worldwide. Refugees – people forced to flee their country because of conflict, war or persecution – accounted for 25.9 million people worldwide in 2018 (half a million more than in 2017). Asylum seekers are people outside their country of origin who receive international protection but are awaiting the outcome of their claim to refugee status. They account for 3.5 million people globally.

Now, here are some important facts: 

  • About 80% of refugees live in countries neighboring their countries of origin
  • The world’s poorest countries host a third of all refugees worldwide
  • High income countries (like most countries in Europe) host only 2.7 refugees per 1,000 of population on average
  • In 2018, every second refugee was a child

Research shows that women and children are the most vulnerable in times of crisis. Sexual violence and rape is used as a weapon of war to further inhibit civilian populations to fight for peace and their fundamental human rights. One very recent case of this is Sudan today. 

Europe has seen a surge of refugees since 2014. Many have risked their lives in horribly overcrowded rubber dinghies to cross the Mediterranean Sea for safety – sometime without functioning life vests. UNHCR estimates that over 17,800 people have died at sea between 2014 and 2018. In this year alone, the UN Refugee Agency estimates that 559 people have died and are missing.

The largest group of people seeking refuge in Europe after crossing the Mediterranean are from Afghanistan.

The war-torn nation was recently reported as the most dangerous country in the world, and 2018 was the most deadly year ever recorded for civilians in Afghanistan.

So what is Europe doing to support asylum seekers from Afghanistan and those crossing the Mediterranean Sea? From what I understand and see in my daily life in Sweden – not enough.

This week, the Swedish parliament voted to extend a “temporary” stringent law which has been highly criticized by humanitarian aid organizations and UN Agencies. Sweden, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and other countries in Europe continue to deport individuals back to Afghanistan – many of whom arrived in Europe as unaccompanied minors several years ago.

Sea rescues have been criminalized as NGO rescue ships are no longer permitted to work out of Italy. Pia Klemp, a German boat captain, faces 20 years in prison and horrendous fines for saving people from drowning in the Mediterranean.

Sweden is using old prisons to forcibly detain high-school attending, Swedish speaking young asylum-seekers from Afghanistan who await deportations. The wait may last several months and the migration and judicial system for asylum seekers is highly criticized. Racism is becoming more visible.

This week, a friend of mine who is an Afghani asylum seeker in Sweden was harassed by police for no reason as he got off a train. We later found out from migration officials that they have been ordered to intimidate asylum seekers so that they will be more inclined to return voluntarily.

Despite being an eternal optimist, I have a hard time seeing anything positive in this stark situation. The message that Europe is sending is that some lives are valued less than others – that some lives are just not important enough to be saved.

“While language around refugees and migrants is often divisive, we are also witnessing an outpouring of generosity and solidarity, especially by communities who are themselves hosting large numbers of refugees. We are also seeing unprecedented engagement by new actors including development actors, private businesses, and individuals, which not only reflects but also delivers the spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugee Filippo Grandi.

“We must build on these positive examples and redouble our solidarity with the many thousands of innocent people who are forced to flee their homes each day.”

We are facing a European crisis that will cost us our solidarity, our humanity and our safeguarding of human rights. The price is too high. If we lose these, we won’t have anything of value left.

I am thankful to be a part of the Swedish Facebook group Vi står inte ut! (We can’t stand it!) which has become a network of 10,000 individuals working to support asylum seekers in various ways. It is through networks like this one that I witness solidarity and fire to fight for our sisters and brothers from other countries.

It is difficult to continue to read and share the stories of refugees, but we must speak the unspeakable, break the silence and fight for a change in our world today.