In the latest of our series of POW!er Profiles, we speak to Mounira Almenoar from Openspace Yoga, who will be leading a workshop on March 11th.
Originally from London, Mounira has been a regular visitor to Thanet all her life. She explains: ‘I grew up in London and came to Thanet about 2 years ago to enjoy a quieter life by sea, close to London. I used to come here a lot as a child so it was a familiar spot on my radar - being a big family we couldn't afford to travel abroad so we'd come to Margate to enjoy the beach and a breath of fresh air most summers. And then in the 90's I'd travel 'daaaaan to Margit' for the rave weekenders at the Lido which were awesome! Since moving here I have spent a lot of time away - travelling and living/working in Australia, so Margate life still feels like a fairly new and exciting adventure for me.’
The contrast with London is very much part of the appeal. ‘ I love the skies, the sea and the calm juxtaposed with the buzz of creative energy around the place. I love the fact that everything you need locally is no more than 10 minutes away - and of course the great community spirit that exists here. I love the volume and variety of events happening across Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate - each town giving its own flavour.’
Even in two years, she has seen loads of changes to the Isle. ‘I have seen big changes here. Thanet feels like the land of opportunity for some, with the rise of the 21st century artisan businesses setting up here - but there is a lot of work for us to do as a whole community to ensure that everyone can play a part in, and enjoy, the benefits of change. We need to work together and move forward with conscience and compassion. Festivals such as POW Thanet to celebrate IWD will help with community cohesion - especially as the festival grows each year giving us the opportunity celebrate and raise awareness together. Young women need good role models and inspiration!
We have come a long way in one sense, but the 'age of information' poses new challenges for women and girls; there is often a precarious dichotomy between the virtual world and reality, especially with the current emphasis on visual image and the selfie-culture. Misogyny and unconscious bias still exist (albeit just under the surface at times) despite equal opportunities legislation and the implimentation of diversity and inclusion strategy. As well as Openspace Yoga, I also work as a freelance project manager and researcher in film and education - my most recent research project involved an analysis of diversity best practice in the film and TV industries internationally (off camera). Such work highlighted the need for continuing education and awareness especially in the workplace for women. The cultural landscape is constantly changing - we mustn't take our eye of the ball - the great work continues, and fun festivals such as POW Thanet offer a platform for us to celebrate our richness and discuss our challenges.'
This is the second year Mounira has taken part in POW!Thanet. I'm the founder of Openspace Yoga and we are delighted to be delivering the Take Some Time for You - Yoga Workshop as part of the programme this year - and for the second year running. The focus of this workshop will be on using yoga practice to help bring us to the core of our being, encouraging a creative and empowering experience by taking some time for us.
I'm also volunteering at the festival so that I can really get stuck in this year! It's great to see the programme growing to include more wellbeing events such as The Power of Mindfulness discussion event for which I'm on the panel, as well as Openspace Yoga's workshop. And I love the dance element this year spanning a range of ages and styles. Onwards and upwards!