Libyan food delivery service looks to serve up gender equality

Fatima Nasser. (Yummy)
Updated 11 July 2018

Libyan food delivery service looks to serve up gender equality

  • She now has 300 cooks ready to start work, having trialled the service successfully with 20 in the southern Libyan city of Sabha
  • Working with Yummy is wonderful and has made things a lot easier

LONDON: Fatima Nasser’s new business had barely got off the ground when she was accused of being a foreign spy for giving women employment opportunities in Libya, her war-torn home country.
The accusation was a measure of the opposition working women face in the conservative Muslim country, which has been in turmoil since a NATO-backed revolt toppled long-time leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Just one in four Libyan women is employed, according to World Bank data — a situation Nasser, 21, hopes to change with a new food delivery app that allows them to earn money from their own kitchens.
“I’m just doing something to help women that I know deserve better. They need opportunities, just like males,” Yasser told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The app, Yummy, connects women who cook at home with customers wanting to order food, in much the same way as Uber connects private drivers with would-be passengers.
It acts as a conduit, offering anonymity options for the cooks, and allows women to take food orders from men without having to speak to them.
“You have a society that has been closed for 100 years, you can’t just open a communication gate between two genders that were not supposed to talk to each other unless they were married to do business,” said Nasser.
She now has 300 cooks ready to start work, having trialled the service successfully with 20 in the southern Libyan city of Sabha — among them 26-year-old Ekhlas Ekrim.
Ekrim has been cooking and selling her food on Yummy for four months in Sabha, where a lack of security and ongoing fighting between rival armed groups have prevented her from going out to work to earn much-needed cash.
“Here they won’t accept that women work. Here your father or brother is responsible to give you money and everything that you need as a woman in the house,” said Ekrim, who lives with her parents, two brothers and two sisters, via WhatsApp.
“Working with Yummy is wonderful and has made things a lot easier. The work itself is not hard, society is.”

HOPE FOR CHANGE
Oil-rich Libya was once one of the wealthiest countries in the Middle East, but its economy has been crippled by conflict and political division.
Security in many parts of the country is poor and the protracted conflict has meant more women having to earn a living as men go off to fight, says development organization MEDA, which teaches business skills to women in Libya.
“Culturally it’s maybe not as appropriate for women to work outside the house. An app like that could circumnavigate some of those issues,” said MEDA director Adam Bramm.
Last year Yummy was one of three winners of the nationwide Enjazi competition, which aims to encourage entrepreneurship to help diversify Libya’s oil-dependent economy.
Nasser won business training and advice from the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan Arab Region and Tatweer Research, which support entrepreneurship in the region.
The prize included a trip to Britain to meet and learn from successful entrepreneurs.
“If a woman started a start-up (in Libya) she would not have the same encouragement and support that her brother had,” she said.
“But hopefully this will change. People are starting to believe in females more and more now.”


Lack of spirit leaves World War II saga hanging midway

Roland Emmerich’s just-opened “Midway” comes nowhere close to the 1950s and 1960s war adventures. (Supplied)
Updated 14 November 2019

Lack of spirit leaves World War II saga hanging midway

CHENNAI: Movies on World War II have delighted cinema audiences for years. Nobody can forget the daring Allied escape in the 1965 “Von Ryan’s Express” with Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard driving a train through Nazi-occupied territory.

There were others in that decade and earlier such as David Lean’s “The Bridge on the River Kwai” about British prisoners of war building a railway in malaria-infested Burma (now Myanmar). These were great classics, but recent efforts have not been as memorable.

(Supplied)

Roland Emmerich’s just-opened “Midway” comes nowhere close to the 1950s and 1960s war adventures. Despite audiences still being thirsty for WWII sagas and a star-studded cast (Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, Ed Skrein and Nick Jonas), the film is unmoving, mainly because of the shallow characters. If the dialogues are stiff, the dramatic potential – including the relationship among the men – appears to have been left midway.

The film begins with Japan’s December 1941 air attack on the US naval base in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, which dragged America into the conflict, and the flick follows America’s revenge mission culminating in the June 1942 Battle of Midway.

(Supplied)

For the US, it was a victory against all odds giving them control of the Pacific’s Midway atoll. It was also a major triumph of human spirit, but the film does not quite capture it.

Most of the exploits relate to real-life fighter pilot Dick Best (Skrein), whose devil-may-care attitude earns him the title “cowboy.” His wife Ann (Moore), the only female character, urges him on but seems a washed-out figure. However, there is plenty of action in the air with dog fights, bombings and pilots ejecting from burning planes high above the ground.

(Supplied)

For fans of singer Jonas, his small but significant part may appeal. He is sailor Bruno Gaido whose spontaneous and heroic action during a Japanese raid earns him promotion.

“Midway” plays at three levels, including one about Japanese military officers, and was shot in Hawaii and Montreal with a lot of computer graphics thrown in. The camera work (Robby Baumgartner) is impressive, but somewhere the soul is missing, and the characters fail to come across as real people.

Despite this, the film opened atop the North American box office last weekend with a reported $17.5 million in ticket sales.