One afternoon, during the first lockdown, while scrolling on Instagram to kill some of the endless free time I had, like the rest of us, I came across an account that instantly drew my attention.
“Wonderful Women” was created in January 2019. A website was set up alongside the Instagram account, and very shortly events and social issues regarding women were being raised and discussed.
I noticed a lot of warmth in the interaction between all these “Wonderful Women” and so I decided to contact the person behind the project. It was my pleasure to talk to the founder of “Wonderful Women”, Maria Nefeli Chatziioannidou, and I think you will appreciate the answers she gave to Migratory Birds, as much as I did.
Tell us the story behind “Wonderful Women”. How did it all begin?
In these fast moving times, we rarely find time to pause and admire people around us, let alone share this with others. And so I decided to create a platform, where every woman can share her admiration for another woman, irrespective of whether that woman is famous or completely unknown. The platform soon turned into a women’s group and is now a community that exchanges opinions, discusses, creates and participates in activities that have a positive impact on society.
In a period of crisis on so many levels, how can such initiatives, adressed primarily at women, act as a refuge for those in need?
Nowadays everyone needs to cooperate, support each other, join together and show real interest in creating equal opportunities for all and for generations to come. The reason I addressed women in the first place, was the misconception that women merely compete with one another and don’t offer each other help or support. Based on that, I wanted to show how vital the support of one woman can be to another woman’s life.
Are you being criticised and if so, how do you cope with it?
We are quite a large community and as with every group of people, not everyone shares the same opinion. On the most controversial issues that we have discussed openly, such as abortion or the article on rape, there were negative comments about my own point of view. “Wonderful Women” are criticised a lot and that is often the result of the labels our critics put on what we do. Criticism is always welcome when it comes from a place of kindness and is designed to help us improve, but not when its purpose is simply to attack.
Do you know whether the account has actually helped someone on a practical level?
There are cases of women finding a job, participating in surveys, offering practical help to others, volunteering and many monre. These examples are proof that we need communities such as Wonderful Women, that people do support each other, and that if we ask for help we are more likely to receive it than if we don’t.
What is your answer to those who claim that “such initiatives never actually make any meaningful change”?
I believe that the Internet is now the new place to interact. It’s a very powerful medium that can be used to inform people and help them solve problems. There are many powerful examples that show how something that started on the Internet brought about fundamental change. The Internet has also given access to millions of people that live far from urban centres and allowed them to participate in activities they wouldn’t have been able to, if these were conducted only offline.
Why should someone follow “Wonderful Women”?
“Wonderful Women” is a platfrom where people can talk openly about whatever concerns them, and find a network of support and understanding. At the same time they can learn about and participate in activities that have a positive impact for them and the society they live in. It is a meeting point where every person can be themselves and express themselves any way they wish.
If you could give one piece of advice to teenagers following your account what it would be?
The ony advice I would give is this: participate in as many extracurricular activities as you can. It is the only way to find your true passion and to discover the person you want to become in the future. You should know that no exams nor grades can determine what you are going to be in life. Only you can decide that! You can turn the world upside down, but you must want to do it and you must be willing to try!