Maryam Montague

Founder and Executive Director, Project Soar


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What has inspired you most this past year?


I founded and run a teen girls’ rights organisation called Project Soar (www.projectsoar.org) and am endlessly inspired by the girls themselves. We recently launched a new program working with internally displaced teen girls in different locations in North West Syria. Our 25 workshop empowerment curriculum and all the supplies needed to implement our program are neatly packed into a bag on wheels, which we refer to Project Soar in a Box – bringing empowerment to girls, no matter where they are.



What are you most excited about for the future?


I am excited to continue to try to make a difference and feel so fortunate to be able to work with a very talented and committed team of women who believe in our mission. Here are the words of Lin, one of our Syrian Coordinators.



"Project Soar in a Box is more than just a project. At least for me, it reaches beyond expectations, giving the girls a voice to be heard, a mindset to believe in themselves and raise their self-esteem in a place where hope and opportunity are minimal. It allows the girls to challenge perspectives within the community and stand up against negative social norms. I believe this program is an eye-opener. It reaches not only the girls, but the facilitators, the implementation team, the families, and all who have been involved in it. Everyone who has been part of the Project Soar in a Box program as an adult wishes they participated in it when they were younger. Our life choices would be different just because of the program."



What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing women today?


Women and girls face many challenges. 130 million girls are out of school and every year there are 12 million new girl brides. Complications through pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for teen girls. When you invest in a teen girl, you invest in the woman that she will become – a future lawyer, journalist, scientist, business owner, etc. Wasting her potential is such a terrible loss to society and to the world.



Why is it important to support and champion women?


Because women are magic.



What ideas inspire you?


I am really interested in neuroscience and maximising the potential of our own brains. I use the Neorhthym OmniPEMF™ Official Site | NeoRhythm PEMF Wearable Device daily, a neurostimulation headband that helps me to focus, meditate, and sleep. Project Soar is also built on neuroscience hacks, helping teen girls build new and better neural pathways when it comes to embracing their own potential.



Is it important to celebrate cultures outside of our own?  why?


The world is endlessly fascinating to me. There is so much to see and learn. My favourite book is Jimmy Nelson’s Before they pass away, which showcases indigenous cultures around the world. In the face of globalisation, they have managed to hang on to their distinctive lifestyles and traditions, and the world is so much more beautiful for it.