PORTRAITS AND STORIES FROM WOMEN SHAPING THE WORLD 

Female restaurateurs are among the rarities in central Stockholm’s restaurant scene. It’s a tough and still very much male dominated business in the city. However Erika Goytizolo didn’t hesitate to go against the flow and opened her unique Canta Lola, Restaurante y Bar Social.

Erika Goytizolo

"Crazy lady with big cojones and a vision, but the real motivation was the underlying belief in what builds our human core"

I never doubted the success and acceptance of my restaurant because it was conceived with the best life experiences, love and even weirdly timing. I relied on the emotional and perceptual intelligence of my guests and proved right. There is still a market for what is genuine and real. Our ambience is joyful with delightful flavours, music, cocktail, wines and true warmth in the service.

My love for food and the process was born since an early age and the greatest inspiration and hero was my grandmother. She always had her magical endless pots of food and a generosity to feed not just her family but anyone that needed a meal. The memories of her hacking of the machete in the patio doing her mise en place while teaching me all the lessons on how to value food and labor to produce it. Above all to be thankful and caring to our Pachamama for providing cure and nutrition.

Many other sisters also inspired me throughout my life. They are not known, they are often the ones you pass by and ignore in the process but to me they are my justification to do better and more, for sisterhood, for the respect they deserve, for the chances they didn’t get and that I won’t ever take for granted.

I have no regard for being underestimated or fitting into anyone’s prejudice. I am extremely proud of taking my space and realizing my personal dream. In my little humble way, I am taking one for the team.

These sisters are in their market stalls selling their produce or hot soups, on the street corners selling their fresh made tamales or fruit juices, on the buses and by the traffic lights carrying an infant on their back and offering their candy to make a living. They are everywhere, in every county or city you ever visited, in your own town. They are the ones that overcome everyday adversity, discrimination, challenges and still stand strong, they are my silent heroes and forever motivation.

I am reminded of them and grow stronger in my role as a restaurant owner. Every time I have to work my kitchen or washing the dishes, cleaning fridges, caring for my wines, repairing machinery, schedules, bookings I feel like I can do anything and everything.

My meaning was to take on a fine scene in Stockholm and display my cultural gastronomical heritage. It is needed not only for diversity purposes but to also inspire other sisters that regardless of nationality, age, or background we also must be seen, heard and given the opportunity to showcase their trade in good locations and even encourage investment and support.

Canta Lola means Sing Lola in Spanish...she is my alter ego and a force of nature, joy, laughter, limitless, unbreakable, relentless. She is the personification of being your own 100%.

 

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Nikki Amini challenged both norms and prejudices when she as a young woman was established in the Swedish music industry. We know Nikki primarily as a straightforward jury member in Idol. Her imprint led to an international career working with some of the biggest name in the music industry. Now she wants to inspire more people to stand up for what they believe in.

"I have refused to diminish myself"

I love my Persian roots and I have many strong women running through my genes, but my background also meant that I didn’t fit into the model of society. My appearance and my character were often seen as different but instead of living up to the expectations of others, I made a choice at an early age - to stand up for myself. Both in the circle of friends and later on in my profession and this gave me a head start to really get to know myself.

My personality has played a crucial role in my career and in my opinion, it all starts with who you are as a person. Your personality is unique and can not be copied or ignored. Today, being under constant influence of musts and demands, I really want to encourage others to think about their strengths but also weaknesses and turn them both into their advantage. No matter what you decide to do in life, you must first and foremost believe in yourself.

Music has always been a great passion, my dad was a music teacher and we played a lot of music at home. He also arranged concerts with artists from Iran and already at the age of ten I got to help sell CDs and hand over flowers to the artists.

Throughout my profession I have challenged, been curious, questioned and dared to take place. Of course, I have met both resistance and people who wanted to diminish me, but the adversity has strengthened me knowing that it pays out to stand up for what you believe in. I have always chosen not to get caught up in negative comments and to put my focus and energy on those who have paid attention to me and wanted to help me move forward.

Let no one else limit you. Go ahead and apply for that job or education you dream of and remember that every time you dare to stand up for yourself, big or small, your self-esteem will grow along with you.

 

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Dona Hariri is the daughter of parents who fled the Iran-Iraq war over mountains and through water. With discrimination, socio-economic exclusion, Dona decided to become a lawyer and to take power and give it to those who needed it most. As a 12-year-old Dona bought her first law book and, against all odds and without the trust of adults, she became a lawyer on her own initiative and power. The lawyer who stepped up her own path in law and did it her way.
Dona Hariri

"The women around me are my strength and sisterhood is my compass"

Every day, women’s fundamental rights are violated. The right to education, health and personal security. The right to equal pay, to own one’s body and not to be exposed to threats and hatred online. Women in the world are struggling to live up to their full potential. More than 100 years ago, women in Sweden fought for their own right to vote.

Women’s rights are not accepted as human rights. Instead, women are a weapon used in war, hardest hit by the lack of access to clean water and sanitation, and subjected to domestic violence. Discriminated in decision-making rooms, questioned when challenging and limited when taking place.

But struggle is also power.

My power comes from women’s struggle. It comes from my mother who persistently tried to give me a childhood in the middle of a burning war. My aunt who is battling cancer which was reduced by healthcare to women-related stress. My aunts who always stand their ground despite a corrupt patriarchy that surrounds them.

It comes from the knowledge that the female body is exposed and women’s health is ignored. The threat online. Racism on the street. The ruling techniques in the boardrooms. My power comes from all women who with great and strong determination have changed their society, their country and the world. Which changes Sweden.

The women around me are my strength and sisterhood is my compass. When it shakes, they are there and remind me to stand up and move forward. Always forward.

The issues women raise throughout history are part of the established society today.