As summer internships were falling through due to COVID, EH*V founders Amira Fateh (Spanish and Portuguese, 2015) and Zainab Ali Majid (Physics, 2015) were delighted to see a growing global sign up for their summer volunteership programme, working to help promote girls' education and their empowerment.
“With some 70 people across five different time zones registered, it put our big ideas about building a global network to the test,” said Amira. We worked on how we could transfer our physical events to virtual spaces, organising our fundraising, empowerment programmes, talks, workshops and panels.
The resulting programme is impressive. Their next virtual panel discussion on September 17 at 3pm UK time is on 'Adopting a Culturally Sensitive Approach to Global Activism'. It is a panel of three programme managers at Girl Up Uganda who will discuss how liberal and progressive programmes are implemented in culturally conservative contexts.
Girl Up Uganda's Girls Adolescent Programme is EH*Vs September fundraiser, hoping to raise £4000. Amira explains: “The money is going towards funding 80 girls for one year of the programme, designed to build adolescent girls' confidence and skills in overcoming challenges they face in patriarchal environments, helping them become self-advocates making informed decisions over their emotional and physical well-being.
EH*V are also launching a 'Spread the Word' campaign. Their aims are to democratise thought, to demystify academia and to spread knowledge beyond the physical boundaries of elite institutions.
“As recent graduates of institutions like Oxford, we feel that we have a very particular role as mediators between these elite spaces and the outside world. Recent protests on social media have shown us that people are eager for self-education, but not sure where to turn to obtain the material needed for it. We feel that as the 'mediators' we can play a vital role in sharing this knowledge,” said Amira.
“We, who have been trained through our degrees to 'speak the language' of academia are in the best position to then translate this academic discourse (which often feels intimidating and exclusionary) into a language that is clear, concise and accessible to all,” adds Zainab.
This means producing content for their social media and website that condenses and simplifies (without 'dumbing down') complex theory. This will come in the form of posts on instagram and facebook, as well as short podcasts. “We hope more women will gain access to the kind of knowledge that we had the great privilege of obtaining whilst at Oxford.”
EH*V plan to use this material as part of the 'curriculum' for their Big Sisters programme, an international mentor network.
“Recognising my own privilege was something that first started when I was a Wadham fresher, and has definitely inspired a real want to work towards maximum access and inclusion for marginalised communities, whether that be with regard to funds, knowledge or skills,” concludes Zainab.