Here is an interview of Melek Jebnoun, active member of Mozilla Tunisia and a wonderful woman I had the honor to meet in Tunis back in February
|Melek and Mitchell at Mozilla Arabic First Meetup 2011 – photo by Nozom|
- How did you come to know about free/libre software?
Concretely it’s been a year. I have often hear about open source and free software because I studied science. Last year I decided to join a university club in my institute (INSAT) called LibertySoft and my passion for free software really took off. However I would say that I really fell in love at first sight one Saturday during an IT conference where the open source community participated. On that day the Tunisian communities gathered during an entire afternoon for a big install party and a fun meetup session. This is when I told myself: dear, the cause is noble, go ahead Since then I got more involved in the community and I tried to participate to all the events that were organized. I can’t stop, it’s some kind of drug
- How did you come to Mozilla? What are you working on within Mozilla?
For Mozilla it was pretty much the same, I met Rafik – founder of Mozilla Tunisia – during that famous Saturday I just talked about. It was three days before he announced the launch of Mozilla Tunisia. He looked at me and told me: “Do you want to join us?” I said: “I don’t know anything!” and he replied: “Come you won’t regret it”. I was just starting to get involved in Mozilla Tunisia, I helped for the website and the event in which Mozilla participated. After that Rafik put me in touch with Rame Khader of Mozilla Arabic. Since that day I got much more engaged inside the Arab community. I got a chance to participate in the Mozilla Arabic meeting in Jordania and I must say that it was the final blow . It reinforced my ties with the Arab community members and that was when I opened up to Mozilla in general, and when I went out of the usual Arab and Tunisian community frame. I came back with my head full of dreams and an excessive need to be more usefull within Mozilla.
What I do Mozilla? Uhm, I recently became a “mentor” in the REMO program launched by Mozilla. I also try to be useful especial inside the Tunisian and Arab community by organizing events and training sessions to preach the spirit and technology of an Open Web!
- What do you prefer about Mozilla?
I must say that the community is great – especially because of the famous “Mozilla spirit”. It’s really “WOW”!!! Despite being invovled in other communities, I have never met people that are more passionate and willing to change the world without asking for any profit or gain in return. They are not afraid to dream and see the world in a quite distinctive way. Its members are simply exceptional.
- And if you could improve something, what would that be?
Sincerely I would say that it is still quite difficult to get involved in the technical side. It’s hard even for some enthusiasts, who do not know where to start out or what to work on. Mozilla should work on this issue, maybe by creating concrete and accessible “How to get involved” documents.
- What would you want WoMoz to do in order to improve your life and experience in Mozilla?
Ahhhh WoMoz, my favorite project in Mozilla. When Mitchell Baker talked to me about it I was really excited, and wanted to join the community as soon as I came back to Tunisia. Sincerely, I have always admired women who have a successful carreer in IT. It is sometimes hard as a woman to make a breakthrough it this domain. As a woman, I hope the extraordinary WoMoz will help me grow stronger and will encourage me to give more of myself, and to involve more Tunisian women in this great experience. I am sometimes so surprised to see the positive feedback from WoMoz, whose members don’t hesitate to give some of their time to give me their advice about my projects, or to orient me. They have always been present.
- Do you have any ideas for WoMoz projects that you would like to launch?
Well, one of my dreams would be to see emerge an all-women technical group. We are able to do it, and we have the energy and talent of young women. Of course my vision concerns the Arab side since IT girls are almost non-existent here, or too shy to make themselves known and to continue in this field. One day, I really hope to see WoMoz create training programs and introduction sessions for young student girls in developing countries, or in countries with difficult access to technology or Internet. The idea is still forming in my head, and I hope that with WoMoz we will be able to do something in this area.
- Do you think a project such as WoMoz is important? Why?
Oh dear yes! A project such as WoMoz is even more than important because every woman can see herself in it and can identify to the other members. “They did it, so I can too!” It’s really important – not only on a technical side or to counter sexist abuse (which is already very important) – but also for motivation and to encourage women to join projects. Some women are only waiting for a little boost to overcome their fears, and watching a Delphine or a Claire talk about women’s passion and their involvement in free/open software can change your vision of things. They are able to make you dream about this so-called “brutal” field: it’s a feminine touch that helps us become free and makes the world a better place for everyone
Thank you Melek for this interview!