The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead, but it’s time to break the bias and uplift the voices of women everywhere.

To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, Dubai Active is sharing stories and interviews of 6 powerful women across the UAE. We hope these stories inspire you and encourage you to spark change everywhere!

Helena Hijazi, Founder of Fit n Glam

Helena Hijazi, FitnGlam Ladies Gym

Helena Hijazi, the founder of FitnGlam, is a qualified pharmacist with a passion for health and wellbeing. An entrepreneur, wife and mother of four children; Helena counts on exercise to build strength, feel good and enjoy some time to relax.

Helena moved to the UAE six years ago, hoping to find options for exercise that suited her needs; however, she was disappointed by what was on offer at her local ladies’ gym. Fortunately, Helena met Karina Frelich, a personal trainer with an abundance of experience within the industry, particularly in women’s health- however despite trying multiple gyms, they couldn’t find a suitable space to train. The pair decided it was time for a change.

FitnGlam was founded to transform the landscape of ladies’ fitness in the UAE; a concept built to champion female mind and body – created for women, by women.

What inspired you to start FitnGlam?

The concept of FitnGlam was aspired by my experience at fitness facilities, where I have seen a lack of attentiveness to women areas. I wanted to create a safe and welcoming space for women who enjoy fitness just as much as I do.

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them? Yes, being seen as a woman has made me feel restricted at times when it came to my career. However, I overcame these barriers by following my passion and creating my own business. There are no limitations.

How do you make time to practice self-care and wellness?

Lately, it has been challenging. But I always prioritize giving myself once a week a day to myself where I self-care. I also workout daily and have my own personal trainer to make sure I am committed to becoming the best version of myself.

Which women do you admire the most?

I admire my mother the most because she has set a great example of a hard-working woman for me, and it made me who I am today.

How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their careers?

We can encourage them by creating a welcoming and educational space for them to learn about the future of entrepreneurship and senior leadership, to create opportunities for them, to set examples, and let them dream and help them achieve. Hosting panel talks with like-minded women, encouraging them to seek their dreams and speak their minds.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

The most important message I would like to send out to young women thinking about or questioning their careers is to always do what you love. When you do what you love, you become passionate, and passion is what fuels your success.



Vicki Fitzsimmons, Senior Director of Brand at Adidas 

Vicki Fitzsimons, adidas

Vicki Fitzsimons is currently the Senior Director Brand for MENA and has over twelve years of brand marketing experience across Europe and the MENA region. She has been with the adidas group for over 5 years, working across various brand roles for both adidas and Reebok. Vicki is a progressive leader; she has a vision and is driven to make a meaningful contribution to enable people to live happier and healthier lives through equitable access to sport for all. Vicki is a passionate advocate for sport and wellness and enjoys Running, Padel, Yoga, Meditation, Neuro Science and Psychology studies in her personal time.

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?

I think every woman has faced barriers in her career. What I have learnt is to build a strong network throughout my career, to be clear on my why and to not compromise on my values even if it leads to set backs.

How do you make time to practice self-care and wellness?

By making it a priority. I focus on the small daily habits that compound into greater self-care. I have found that this enables me to contribute to my team and my loved ones more effectively.

How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their career?

I think both men and women need to focus on the systemic issues across society and businesses that can create a lack of equity. This is not a female problem, this is a people problem so we all need to be part of the solution. By enhancing the systems, I believe we will see a increase of women in senior leadership and entrepreneurial roles.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

Dare to dream, focus on your why, be kind and stay true to your values.



Gemma Ovens, Founder/Owner of Postnatal Fitness

Gemma Ovens

Gemma Ovens is the founder of Postnatal Fitness Hub. Her mission is to ensure mums have access to the knowledge and support needed to rehab and return to exercise safely post baby, no matter how many months or years postnatal they are!

As a mum of two and having to rehab post C-section with a 3.5cm ab separation, Gemma came to realise how little support there is for mums wanting to return to fitness. This realisation has led Gemma to where she is now. Having spent her whole life competing and working in the sports and fitness industry, she is passionate about helping mums achieve their fitness, strength, confidence and self-care goals. 

Gemma has helped 100’s of mums to heal and strengthen their core and pelvic floor, increase their full body strength through weight training, learn how to priorities themselves without the mum guilt and change daily habits to ensure they make time for them!! 

What inspired you to start Postnatal Fitness Hub?

I started Postnatal Fitness Hub 2 years ago after having my first child via C-section. I have spent my whole life in sport, fitness and teaching and never realised how little support there is out there for pregnant and postpartum mums wanting to exercise, rehab or return to exercise post baby.

The lack of knowledge and support around Diastatis Recti and returning to weight training, particularly resonated with me!

I am passionate about ensuring mums are not held back from returning to the exercise they love due to postnatal symptoms that they should not and do not have to live with! I am on a mission to support mums mentally and physically to ensure they are exercising safely and making that time for them!

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

You spend a long time working so make sure you do something you love! This stood out to me from a very young age, something my dad repeatedly said to us as children. I followed my passion of sport and exercise and was not only lucky enough to compete in sport but I taught secondary Physical Education for some time and then moved into building my own fitness business.

How do you make time to practice self-care and wellness?

Unfortunately I learned the hard way that mental health is just as important as physical health! During my teaching career I became part of the middle management team, over time the stress got the better of me and i decided to quit the profession as many do! As a busy mum of 2 running a business and working a full-time job, I now make a point of ensuring i fit selfcare into my day or at least my week! Even if this means missing a training session! I have realised the importance of selfcare and notice the difference it makes to me personally, I am better able to cope with the busy weeks I have.

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

So many women work so hard on a daily basis and we don’t appreciate what we fit into our day and how we just ‘get on with it’ I think a little appreciation goes a long way. I work with so many amazing mums that have children, work, exercise, run a house and don’t realise how amazing they are! Just being told this from another woman can make a huge impact to their day. We should compliment and support each other more!



Kelly Hodgkin, Gym Clothing Co – Entrepreneur, Investor, Director & Mum

Kelly Hodgkin, Gym Clothing Co

Kelly is a seasoned entrepreneur, investor, company director, and brand ambassador who believes in empowering other business owners to unlock their success.

Based in Dubai for the past 13 years, Kelly balances various business roles with being a mum to three boys. She is a Director of the media group PPMG, where she runs the modelling and promotions division, overseeing fashion styling, editorial shoots, and high-profile events. She also invests in young, dynamic lifestyle brands, driving them forward to achieve greater visibility and grow their customer base in the UAE.

How do you make time to practice self-care and wellness?

Looking after yourself and being the healthiest you can be (mentally and physically) is absolutely crucial to achieving your goals and being there for your loved ones. I have prioritised self-care and self-development over the past few years and definitely noticed a big difference. I make an effort to include time for myself in my schedule and when everything is so busy, the only way to ensure it happens is by planning it in. I plan my diary military-style and try to balance my time working with taking time out. I always find that when I step back, it allows me to regain perspective and refocus on all the possibilities.

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

Empowering other women and supporting them to reach their potential is what drives me every day. We live in a world where it’s too easy to tear people down and the impact of negativity and bullying is all around us. It’s time to stop listening to self-doubt or believing anyone who tells us what we can’t do. I genuinely believe the only way we will ever be our best is by building people around us up as well. This is one of the main things that inspired me to launch The Real Business Women of Dubai, a platform all about strong, successful women who want to share their success and help other women make success a reality as well.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

It has to be never to let anything hold you back. A lot of people still think you need to be from a certain background in order to succeed but it’s not the case. I had an uncertain start in life and worked hard to get where I wanted to be. The path to success is about taking risks and we all face difficulties, it’s how you come out the other side that matters. There are no limits to how high you can climb; set clear goals, take the steps you need to achieve them and tune out all the self-talk, and outside criticism that gets in the way.

Which women do you admire most?

I admire all women. Everyone has their own unique superpowers, whether they’re a stay-at-home mum, an entrepreneur, a working mum, a career woman, or someone looking for a different way of doing what they love every day, we need to celebrate the qualities that make us who we are as individuals.



Sevgi Anar, Founder of The Fox Active

Sev Anar, Fox Active

Sevgi Anar is a 38-year-old entrepreneur from Sydney Australia. She is a seasoned professional having worked in the fitness industry for 10+ years. With a mission to empower women to feel comfortable in their own bodies, Sevgi founded her activewear brand, The Fox Active. Find out more about her brand on or Instagram: @thefoxactive & @sevgearfitness.

What inspired you to start The Fox Active?

It had always been my DREAM to create an Activewear line. Creating this brand has always been part of my own personal mission. I’ve always felt that there was a stigma against women looking too sexy, especially at the gym. That we can work hard on our bodies to look and feel strong and sexy, but that we shouldn’t show too much of our bodies as we would be sexualised.

I decided to create The Fox Active to empower women to be able to feel comfortable in their own bodies, to be bold and daring and unafraid to look and feel like a FOX.  Activewear that was unique and fashionable that would compliment their body shape and accentuate their curves. Pieces that they could wear not only to the gym, but also out to the mall or the cafe.

By joining THE FOX TRIBE I was able to bring together a tribe of woman who feel included in the brands mission and shape the way they live. A community where women can be fit, strong and confident with the support of other like-minded women to celebrate and lift each other up. Where women are proud and confident, and unapologetically themselves. Where women can ‘Unleash the FOX’ within themselves.

How do you make time to practice self-care and wellness?

Running your own business involves a lot of blood, sweat and tears and can be exhausting both physically and mentally. It is really important for me to try and find a balance between working really hard and looking after my own health and wellness.

I have found that creating a routine and prioritising what needs to be done is crucial in keeping a healthy body and mind. I like to meditate every morning before I start the day, as it helps to control my mind, reduces any pain or stress I may be holding and keeps me staying focused for the day ahead. Exercising daily – which could be from sweating it at the gym or going for a nice walk outdoors which will be enough to reduce stress and change my mood for the day. And most importantly I like to listen to my body and understanding when it needs to switch off completely.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

I would tell young women to dream BIG no matter how difficult or scary that dream may seem.

As women, we are still to this day brought to believe that we should be taking care of the house and raising children, but us women are incredibly smart, strong and resilient creatures and are capable of achieving whatever our heart desires.

If you have a big dream then you should never allow society pressures to scare you from achieving them.

Decide on your reasons WHY you want to achieve a certain goal or pursue a career, decide on where you want to be in the next 5 or 10 years, set goals and keep the motivation to follow through with them.

It’s not going to be easy. All the experiences (good and bad) will be lessons. There will be times of fear and self-doubt along the way. Being confident within yourself is something you will have to work on every single day and there will be days where you will feel like giving up and will doubt your abilities, but to never allow your growth or confidence be impacted by other people and their insecurities.

Always be true to yourself, kind to others, stay humble and grounded and always celebrate your achievements no matter how big or small.



Rima Faour, Founder and Manager of MyCore Studio

Rima Faour

Rima Faour, Founder and Manager at MyCore Studio, the all-new Pilates and Yoga studio in Dubai Science Park that opened it’s doors in 2021! Born and raised in the UAE, Rima is constantly on the move herself and wanted to share a unique movement experience with the community. This bio will not contain any training background as Rima started both her Pilates and Yoga journeys as a ‘client’ and average person who sat for too many hours behind a desk in an IT job. Having struggled with posture, lower back, and core strength herself, it was no brainer for her to take on Pilates 4 years ago. She swears by the effect of both Pilates and Yoga on both her mind and body and wished she started ages ago. Rima is on a mission to build strength through movement for everyone! ‘I wanted to create a different workout experience for every body type, age, and gender! I want for everyone to feel like they are supported as individuals to achieve their personal goals which mandated smaller and more focused classes. There shouldn’t be any reason for someone to not move, not even an injury!‘ says Rima. Rima has built a team of professionals at MyCore who are experienced, qualified, and very importantly passionate about helpings other.

What inspired you to start MyCore?

My personal journey into becoming stronger physically and mentally. By experiencing the effect of Pilates and Yoga on my own body, I decided that I wanted to spread awareness about low impact exercises and their benefits with the world. I wanted to positively impact people’s lives through movement.

How do you make time to practice self-care and wellness?

I make sure it is on my high priority list all the time and pencil it into my calendar.

How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their career?

By being the best versions of ourselves and working hard to achieve what we are passionate about we encourage other women to thrive for more. Start with yourself I always say and other women have more and more proven success stories that inspire them


On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

You are lucky to be a woman! Make sure you carry life with the mindset that it is a privilege to be a woman and not a limitation. The only limitation to what you ever want to achieve is what you THINK you can do!

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

It means a lot to me as I have been fortunate enough to have worked with and inspired with fantastic women! Surrounding myself with women who want to see me shine is the biggest gift I give to myself!