The sky is falling:

When I open my twitter feed I can’t help but think of chicken little’s famous four words. Social media, newspapers and various other platforms are being drowned in passionate views on the recent referendum – which is great to see at such a momentous time like this – though I feel some of us ought to be reminded the line between passionate and aggressive can often become blurred, especially when you are met with responses you don’t necessarily agree with.

The contentious nature of politics leads many to argue it is something which should not be discussed in social settings, though I disagree in that it should be discussed, but regarded with the utmost diligence; being mindful of the rights, freedoms and feelings of others. Freedom of speech is just as much of a democratic right as voting a certain way in a referendum; you have every right to articulate yourself on any platform you choose, as long as you put some thought into the way this is done.

Yes, the state is currently in shambles, though the way we handle this as individuals has a great impact on the way this event is recorded in history. We’re so fortunate to be experiencing this at a time where social platforms provide us with a space to have a voice so that we don’t have to take to the streets, rioting with unclear messages. By all means if you think your physical presence is the best way to express yourself, I strongly urge you to protest peacefully, as many great figures in history have, where messages are clearly thought out instead of an act of aggression.

The sky may be falling, but above it is unknown space that we have the power to determine the nature of.

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Local Elections!

London Elects

Working within local government makes me full of excitement for the upcoming elections, however, the feeling isn’t mutual with most people I speak to (shocker there?) Below, I have compiled a list of reasons for why individuals may not vote alongside some suggestions, which will hopefully help combat the evil that plagues most elections – poor turn out.

1.The ‘I don’t know who to vote for’ reason

Up until this point, candidates’ communications strategies may have been fairly subtle to avoid overwhelming and annoying voters with their campaigns. However, with less than a month to go, there’s no doubt mailboxes and community notice boards will be flooded with flyers, brouchers and various other forms of information to help you make an informed decision about who, and more importantly, what you’re voting for. Key points of candidates and their policies can also be found online, especially since the Transparency Fund has provided opportunities for smaller authorities to increase their online presence.

2.The ‘local elections aren’t as important as parliamentary elections’ reason

Local authorities are at the heart of combating the challenges facing communities, working on a more local level, councils often a better understanding of their residents and how issues may be impacting them. MPs and Parliament are increasingly seen as being out of touch with ‘real people’, but local authorities are seminal in forming better links between Westminster and communities, through the work they do with other bodies in the sector. Furthermore, local authorities play an important role in keeping public spaces clean and accessible, as well as promoting multiculturalism and community cohesion.

3.The ‘I don’t have time’ reason

No time? No problem! There’s two simple solutions to this very common reason for not voting – you can either register for a postal vote via your local authority or register with a proxy; where you appoint someone you trust to vote on your behalf. Do note, however, both of these methods must be registered for in advance of the election day – be sure not to leave it too late as you may miss the opportunity!

4.The sad, but honest, ‘I can’t be bothered’ reason

Unlike the other reasons for not voting, the answer to this one is more of a simple – yet hopefully effective – rant: We have the privilege of living in a country where one of the many political freedoms we exercise is the ability to elect our public officials. Many countries all over the world are still fighting for this privilege. If you’re not voting because you feel a great sense of apathy, vote to honour the fight your ancestors fought. Vote for someone you like, vote against someone you dislike, spoil your ballot – just use it!

#INTERNATIONAL Womens Day

For most of us, International Women’s Day is known for the ritual of posting, liking and sharing quotes and photos of the types of women we aspire to both be and know. It’s a time where women come together and unite under this hashtag to celebrate proud achievements as well as share hopes for where we’d like to be in coming years. Whilst many of us – myself included – feel empowered by sharing such moments, I think we easily forget about the ‘International’ aspect to this movement; we forget about the many places in the world where women are failing to be empowered.

Many of us have been fortunate in the societies in which we have been raised – societies where the education, drive and independence of women is championed from a young age. However, the harsh reality remains that in many communities, abilities and opportunities are inarguably linked to gender. What you do, where you go and who you become is not in the control of these women because they lack the resources and communities that should empower them. Whilst we could discuss (at length) the various reasons for this disparity, it’s important to recognise such disparity continues to plague women all over the world, in different forms.

Women predominantly in African and Asian countries, are fighting for unhygienic FGM procedures – which continue to be performed widely on girls as young as 10 – to be abolished. Women in less developed countries are fighting for girls to be able to go to school, child marriages to become illegal, the right to fair trials. Women all over the world are fighting the forces that are failing to empower them.

It’s easy for us to continue our day-to-day lives not thinking of the struggles others may face around the world; International women’s day isn’t one of these days. It’s a day for women to empower and be empowered, regardless of where in the world they are so I ask for us all to talk about and share causes completely unrelated to our circumstances, and how we promise to empower these women through raising awareness of the need for women’s day to truly be international.

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#Antes que morir, quiero…

Whilst in Gran Vía for brunch, a friend and I came across a pop-up event entitled ‘Antes que morir, quiero..’ a phrase which translates to mean ‘Before I die, I want to..’ which ended up being a wall full of individuals’ thoughts on exactly this, in several different languages.

After some more research, it came to my attention that this movement was an international project started by artist Candy Chang in New Orleans which quickly spread all over the world.

 

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#PrayForParis ‘BUT’…

Whilst scrolling through various platforms of social media, I’ve seen an abundance of posts claiming ‘#PrayForParis but…’ then going on to draw attention to crises in the Middle East, African and Asian continents. I’d just like to take a moment to really think about what this individual is suggesting; that one tragedy holds more significance than another, that one kind of death is more painful or more important than another. You’re turning someone’s grief into a political statement. In effect, you’re telling them this grief is misplaced because it is focusing on a Western tragedy.

As a Politics student, I am in full understanding of how bias the stories we are presented with are, how there is an imbalance of coverage from East to West but bringing this to attention during a Western tragedy is the least most effective and intelligent way to do this – by doing so, you essentially come across as ignorant, ill-informed, and above all, insensitive. Whilst you may want to bring attention to these issues, using the word ‘but’ is not the way to do this, especially in reference to another tragedy.

Let us focus on how France has helped other nations facing hardship; being the fourth largest European taker of refugees (statistics taken from and available at: Eurostat asylum applications) – France was there for others during a difficult time, so it’s only right we do the same during theirs.

I didn’t mean to offend anyone in my views, I think everyone has a right to say what they feel, though should consider the language they use when doing so.

Finally, my thoughts are with those in and around Paris, Beirut and every other nation tragedy is looming over.

 

#62MillionGirls:

Michelle Obama

62 million. That’s too big a number.

When I think about all the children in the world who are denied the right to be educated, it makes me appreciate my life that much more. My education has brought me so much; I’m fortunate enough to have been taught to read and write from a young age, move to a different city for University, a different country for an exchange programme. Everything in my life that I love – my friends, my hobbies, my travels – have come from the fact that I was afforded the opportunity to be educated.

In school I learned to read and write, read articles and books and thoughts that empowered me and made me feel like I could change the world. Reading and writing is something I will always love, it's gotten me through the hardest of times and made me want to share the brightest of times. I learnt about different customs and languages, allowing me to break cultural barriers and move to a foreign country. In school I learnt just how lucky I was to have an education; #62MillionGirls do not have this chance. Let's change that, #LetGirlsLearn
In school I learned to read and write: read articles and books and thoughts that empowered me and made me feel like I could change the world. Reading and writing is something I will always love, it’s gotten me through the hardest of times and made me want to share the brightest of times. I learnt about different customs and languages, allowing me to break cultural barriers and move to a foreign country. In school I learnt just how lucky I was to have an education; #62MillionGirls do not have this chance. Let’s change that, #LetGirlsLearn

 

Raksha Bandhan:

Raksha Bandhan is an Indian festival which celebrates the love, duties and responsibilities between a brother and sister. The tradition dictates sisters should tie a Rakhi (I don’t know how to describe this other than a colourful string) around her brother’s wrist to affirm their relationship; for her brother, a sister is expressing her love and hope for the well-being of her brother and in return, the brother pledges to protect his sister from danger, evil and harm.

Though many argue the ritual teaches girls from a young age that they will always need the men in their lives to protect them and this works against much of the progress feminism has made – especially within the last decade – I think we should focus on the other side of the argument; how this festival brings families and siblings of all ages together.

For many years I have witnessed my mother be reunited with her siblings who all live in different continents through the Rakhris that are tied in person and those that are sent in the mail sometimes up to weeks in advance to make sure they arrive on time. Raksha Bandhan reminds us to take time out of our busy schedules to appreciate our siblings; and reminds us the love we share with them is one of a kind.

 ~ Happy Raksha Bandhan to all of those who celebrated ~

'To the outside world we all grow old but it is our siblings that remind us of each other's hearts, the family secrets, feuds, loves and laughs and how we ultimately live outside the touch of time.' #HappyRakshaBandhan
‘To the outside world we all grow old but it is our siblings that remind us of each other’s hearts, the family secrets, feuds, loves and laughs and how we ultimately live outside the touch of time.’ #HappyRakshaBandhan

How many people would you impress if the world were blind?

A recent poll conducted asking girls between the ages of 15 and 17 who they thought was ‘the most beautiful’ scared the life out of me. There were five options: three of which Kardashians and the other two, Jenners. My confusion with this question mainly sat with use of the word ‘beautiful’. Yes, these women have what would be considered- for a lack of better words – perfect faces and bodies but what did these women do that made them beautiful to this magazine?

We constantly hear phrases like ‘beauty is more than just a pretty face’ being thrown around but let’s be honest, most of us – myself, too, at times – associate beauty with little other than physical appearances. Many of us blame the media for the caked and photo shopped images we’re shown, others blame the role models young people are choosing to idolise. No matter who you choose to blame it’s important to recognise the increasing pressure we put ourselves under to look like these images – a pressure that is powerful enough to drown out the other important things that contribute to our beauty; like the books we read, the causes we care about and most importantly, the things we do.

From a young age, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by intelligent and caring women who constantly taught me my appearance was the last thing I should worry about. Some of these women were educated with bachelors, masters and doctorates. Some participated in volunteer work regularly. Some traveled frequently and experienced different cultures. I’d like to think I’m a well rounded person and attribute this to the women I idolised when I was younger. I thought all of these women were beautiful because of the things they did, not because of the way they looked.

It saddens me to think there’s so many amazing women out there but the most read online stories and the most idolised women out there are those who do little other than look good.

This post was so different to what I normally write about but I think it’s something that isn’t said enough and poses a question we don’t ask enough – how many people would you impress if the world were blind?

‘If your self esteem is based on the way you look, you will never be happy with yourself. If you have the perfect body, it’s going to age. At some point you have to take control and shift the focus and decide who you are. What you take from the world and what you contribute is a thousand times more important than how you look.’