International Women’s Day and Diversity Allies
We’ve recently celebrated International Women’s Day (8 March 2020) – an important day as it pays tribute to breaking barriers from former gender and cultural roles that women have been assigned to over the past centuries. It is also a day in which we commemorate the women who have fought and made sacrifices to bring about today’s changes.
Looking back five years we can see substantial progress around the globe: from Malala Yousafzai winning the Nobel Peace Prize to Greta Thunberg being a young climate activist. Both have shown that you can start bringing change despite your age and gender. However, there is still progress that needs to occur to completely overcome the gender disparity.
It is simply incredible how many aspects of diversity exist, for example: cultural diversity, religious diversity, age diversity, LGBT community, education level and many more. One can almost say that diversity itself is very diverse.
As a South Asian Muslim in the UK, I represent both cultural and religious diversity, but this does not mean that I cannot be an ally of another aspect of diversity that I don’t represent. In particular, over time, I have learned to be an ally of the LGBT+ community. At first, I did not know much about the LGBT+ community, and probably like many, I thought I could not contribute much to it because I am not myself a member. I am glad to say that I was wrong.
You might be wondering how a person can become an ally of a diversity group. I first started by proactively including myself as a supporter for the LBGT+ community. For example, I started raising awareness concerning the issues and the struggles of people belonging to gender and sexuality diversity. Indeed, these types of initiatives are less successful when they are divisive rather than inclusive. When people non-LGBT+ allies working with the LGBT+ community to promote this aspect of diversity, they are more inclined to help and join the cause because of the mirror effect, as they see others like them helping. They will also feel a sense of relief that being an ally will not be seen as invasive or intruding to a community they don’t belong to . It felt strange at the beginning being an ally, as it is with anything new and unfamiliar, but I quickly got over that feeling as I learned that inclusion is a reciprocal feeling, it is not just you accepting that diversity aspect, but also them accepting you.
How many of you feel hesitant when it comes to joining a cause that does not apply to you? That happened to me as well. Our instincts naturally want to set us aside from something that is unfamiliar. We need to learn to not be afraid of making mistakes and accepting corrections, as keeping quiet is not a solution. I am planning to be more active in promoting and supporting the LGBT+ community and to be an ally of as many diversity groups as I can. There is always something new that you can learn by getting to know a diverse set of people.
“My name is Simona Mohammad and I am the second Women in Science Ambassador. My nationality is Italian and my ethnicity is Bengali. I have lived my whole life in Italy and just moved to England a few years ago. I have come to Loughborough to study Natural Sciences. As the Women in Science Ambassador I hope to involve more women in choosing STEM pathways and contribute towards enriching the diversity in Loughborough.”
Women in Science
Encouraging more young women to study science-related subjects