Jillian Kowalchuk: Escaping Yemen's Civil War, Talking About Uncomfortable Truths and Building Tech for Civic Responsibility

The Ben & Tony Podcast: Episode 6. New episode every Wednesday & Saturday.

Welcome to Episode 6 of the Ben & Tony Podcast, where the world’s most interesting people tell their stories.

Jillian Kowalchuk is the Founder & CEO of Safe & The City, a mobile app designed to allow people to navigate cities based on safety, not speed.

Anthony’s Take:

It’s crazy to hear the story of how living in Yemen at an early age and then having to dramatically escape the country has shaped Jill. While her time there was bittersweet, it’s created such a deep sense of purpose within Jill’s soul. I really latched on to certain phrases that Jill said, that she tackles problems that we don’t really like talking about - like sexual health, harassment, sexual education. To quote Jill again, she’s had a clear picture of the injustice and inequality in the world and has dedicated her life to making things better. Jill has a kind heart and you should be able to take some inspiration from the way she’s been able to give back to her community at every single stage of her life.

Ben’s Take

From escaping civil war to experiencing an incident of sexual harassment in London, Jillian has developed one of the strongest senses of personal and civic responsibility of anyone I’ve ever met. So many people start with big lofty goals when it comes to making a difference, but what I love about Jillian’s story is that she started by making small, impactful changes to the immediate world around her and worked up from there. Now an award winning entrepreneur, globally recognized through her founding of & leading safe & the city, I left our conversation with a deep conviction that the world is a better place because Jillian is in it. One lesson I took: start small by trying to make positive impact on your immediate environment.


A bit more on Jill:

She’s an award winning entrepreneur, a leadership coach, and has created online courses such as Master The Main Stage. Jill spent her childhood in Yemen but had to urgently leave the country in order to escape civil war. That early experience influenced the rest of her life - she moved on to work passionately across several different countries in fields like public health, non-profits, and community outreach. From her earliest beginnings in Yemen, Jill has been motivated by creating things that help fight against injustice and inequality in the world.


What did we talk about?

  • Jill’s early childhood experience in Yemen and escaping from war

  • Living, working, and volunteering across Africa, Asia, and The Middle East

  • Talking about things people are afraid to talk about - sexual health, education, and more

  • Being driven to fight back against injustice and inequality in the world

  • Building and supporting organisations that help people who are left behind

  • Safe and the City -- using technology to build safer communities


Find Jill Here: https://twitter.com/kowalchuk_jill

Find Ben Here: https://twitter.com/BenHart36

Find Anthony Here: https://twitter.com/AnthonyMcG2


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Ben & Tony