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Laila Ajjawi: a street artist serving women and refugees in Jordan

Laila Ajjawi or when street-art defends feminism! Through her murals, the young Jordanian of Palestinian origin shakes up mentalities. Her work defends equality between men and women, the right to education and denounces the condition of refugees. Activist and eternal optimist, Laila Ajjawi breathes positive touches wherever she goes.

Mask on her nose, jeans, sneakers and hijab, Laila Ajjawi is ready to bombard the walls… with color! Her look does not go unnoticed and fascinates the inhabitants of Irbid. This city of Jordan, 85 km north of the capital, is known for its Palestinian refugee camp. Laila knows it very well, having lived there for many years with her family. But this does not prevent her from standing out from the crowd and pursuing her dreams.


Girl power

Laila Ajjawi discovered an artistic fibre very early on, at the age of five. Gradually, the school’s paint pots give way to aerosols. A bit by chance, she embraces the path of street art in 2014, when she participates in the Women On Walls event. An artistic initiative launched in Egypt and the Middle East that uses graffiti to talk about women’s rights. “This is the first time I’ve ever left my hometown to participate in a regional art festival. I met many women artists and Mia Grondahl, who was in charge of the event. An incredible woman who stimulated and encouraged us. I owe her a lot,” Laila recalls.

This promising first attempt allows the young woman to make her way in the very masculine world of street art. While some would have been discouraged, Laila Ajjawi sees it as an opportunity to surpass herself.” Questioning yourself is the best way to improve in any field. What depresses me is comparing myself to others,” explains the street artist. I’ve always thought that in terms of talent and experience, there’s a huge range of possibilities. ”



And when Laila Ajjawi is asked how her feminist works are perceived and welcomed by passers-by, her answer puts balm in the heart. Talent is appreciated regardless of gender, although some are surprised that there is a woman behind the work,” she notes. You’re conditioned because it’s good to do or not to do, and I’ve always evolved in life by detaching myself from that. What more can I say, if not bravo Laila!


Education for All

A refugee herself, Laila Ajjawi helped her fellow refugees by working for three years in an NGO. A mission that has always been close to her heart since the beginning of the war. On an artistic level, the young woman creates frescoes on the strength of resistance and the education of girls. “Many of them stop studying because of their parents,” she laments. On her Instagram account, she adds that girls’ schooling is not called into question “because of money problems or bad grades, but because of the mentality”. To get things moving and develop the butterfly effect, Laila unveiled a mural at the Irbid refugee camp last December. Where she was born.



Ambitious and passionate, Laila Ajjawi has a lot on her mind: to create her own business and a new Youtube channel in English, but also to travel to artistic destinations with her son.


See also

Author Alya Mooro, or how to break stereotypes about women in the Middle East.

Published on 6 July 2020

#street art