1 year (since August 2020)
Meet – Roxanna Azimy – Senior Account Manager at Global Office Consulting.
1 year (since August 2020)
Area of Interest in International Development:
Health and bodily autonomy; Equality of opportunities; Intersectional representation and leadership.
Currently a Wallobooks Ambassador and occasional New Europeans panellist. Former Vice President of European Future Forum.
Background – Tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up in rural North-West England with my British mother, Iranian father, older sister, and younger brother. Coming from a multicultural and multilingual home is probably why I’ve always loved learning about different languages, countries, and cultures. I got my BA in French and Spanish from King’s College London, and an MSc in European Studies: Ideas, Ideologies, and Identities from LSE, where I focused on multiculturalism, ethnic minority identities, and conflicting ideologies.
In the past few years, I’ve lived in London, Paris, and Brussels. I previously worked in the EU’s PR and Communications Directorate, as well as a European parliamentary lobbying network for sexual and reproductive health and rights. These days, you can either find me at my plant-abundant home office or walking obsessively up and down the beach in Alicante, Spain.
What issues do you consider to be most prevalent to women globally?
My first main project at Global Office was Women’s March Global’s “Global Count” – an online poll for all women and gender-diverse people to indicate the issues they view as priority where they live. Worryingly – but perhaps not surprisingly – every single one of the 173 countries where we received responses from had gender-based violence, harassment, and abuse as the most highly-ranked issue area.
Although there are countless issues to be addressed in the fight for gender justice, the baseline should surely be that women and gender-diverse people are able to live a life free from fear of the violence and abuse that continues to affect them disproportionately – regardless of location, age, or other demographic factors. Yet most if not all women experience this in some form at some point in their life – and often before even reaching adulthood. This shouldn’t be normalised.
If you were heading a fund especially for gender, what would be the first thing you would do?
I would focus on education and training programmes for girls and young women. Childhood and youth are such pivotal periods where all individuals should have the opportunity to build their knowledge, skills and confidence – no matter their gender, location, or background. Education means empowerment through opening employment and economic opportunities – but also through gaining knowledge of our own worth and rights, potentially empowering young people at risk of gender-based violence and harmful practices to speak up for themselves and take ownership over their lives early on.
What are some of the biggest barriers to progress in gender, justice, and global health?
The way I see it, pretty much every obstacle to gender equality, justice, and by default global health too, comes down to the norms and narratives we all live by – even those of us trying to push for progress.
For instance, the main barrier to gender equality is not only the mindset that women are somehow less competent than men, though that’s still a huge part – it’s also the inherent belief that traits we associate with femininity (whatever the gender of the bearer) are weaknesses – something to overcome in order to be a leader. Traits like high emotional intelligence, empathy, sensitivity… I would argue these are among the greatest strengths of all for a leader – not something we must nip in the bud or pretend not to possess in order to get ahead like many sectors, from business to politics, would have us believe. The loudest or the pushiest shouldn’t automatically be the one who gets the last word – and showing emotion or empathy in your decision-making doesn’t make you “hysterical” or “weak.”
Women have historically been oppressed by men – this doesn’t mean they have to emulate the outdated masculine ideal in order to gain credibility. Similarly, individuals or communities from racial minorities or the Global South shouldn’t have to emulate western cultures and standards to gain credibility. We must work to dismantle the notions of white supremacy and patriarchy altogether.
What do you think are some of the solutions to these problems?
Rewriting outdated narratives – starting in schools, right up to our workplaces, governments, and international institutions. There isn’t only one type of good leader – just as there isn’t only one way to show strength or competence. Intersectional feminism isn’t about women or minorities conforming to patriarchal, white supremacist standards and getting a tokenistic seat at the table as some sort of prize – it’s breaking down the idea that a leader has to be a certain way or certain person.
Tell us something about you that we don’t know?
As well as human rights, I’m very passionate about animal rights – as a lifelong vegetarian always caring for an animal or four at any one point growing up (from the usual cats and dogs, to horses, sheep, and various types of bird…) and a vegan for the last 7 years. My first proper internship was actually at PETA.
What three items would you take to a desert island and why?
Assuming I already have the survival basics, my kindle pre-filled with books (is that cheating?), a sketchpad, and a hefty supply of coffee.
Song that always gets you dancing?
La Estrella Blanca by Fondo Flamenco or pretty much anything Turkish.
What is the best thing about working at GOC?
The genuine passion we all have for our work, the close-knit team dynamic, and the way we all bring different experiences, skills and personalities to the table.
Where are you going to be in ten year’s time?
I’m not sure of the specifics, but I hope to still be working hard, beaching hard… and overall, continuing to do work that motivates and inspires me through the difference it’s making, staying curious, and continuing to learn and develop skills.