efe-epaLisbon, Oct 11

The Mediterranean Union conference taking place in Lisbon, which entered its second day on Thursday, listened attentively to a Jordanian female martial arts expert who explained how girls, adolescents, mothers, and even grandmothers can learn self-defense techniques that teach them how to fight back aggression.

EFE spoke with Jordanian martial arts expert Lina Khalifeh, the woman behind SheFighter, a pioneering project created in 2012 that teaches women how to fight in Middle Eastern streets, raise their self-esteem and empower them to take control over their lives.

SheFighter has gone viral across the region and 10,000 Middle Eastern women have already been trained on how to react to aggression.

In Khalifa's words: "If you believe you might be attacked in some moment of your life, the chances are you will. You must discard this idea and face up your fears," adding: "That is what you learn during training. If you face up to it, you will never fear again."

"I conceive it as empowering women both psychologically and physically. I deal a lot with their self-esteem, self-confidence, beliefs, and their desire to build a better society, that is my objective", Khalifeh explained to EFE.

This Jordanian woman has won twenty Taekwondo medals, including three in the black belt category, and described how the project came forth when her self-confidence grew after winning these martial art events.

The result is a series of SheFighter courses designed according to age groups and specific objectives that will get rid of the fears plaguing these women's lives.

Khalifeh has also taught Syrian female refugees how to fend for themselves by resorting to self-defense techniques.

"If you are properly trained in self-defense you will gain confidence and automatically project it, which in many cases will deter any attacks," the Taekwondo expert said.

Her project's success has taken Khalifeh all across the world, visiting many countries and meeting hundreds of women. Her conclusions were Earth-shattering: "I have been to Hong Kong, Europe, South America, Africa, the US, the Middle East....all women need this."

Khalifeh concluded that once you have this knowledge: "If someone wants to hurt you, you know what you have to do even if you are not 100 percent certain, you have the required knowledge to deal with the menace."

by Cynthia de Benito