Last Thursday I decided to attend the first series of Empower Her Voice talks at Wadham. Quite apart from engaging with a range of interesting issues, such as the gendering of legislation, the speakers spoke with coherence and honesty. I left Wadham with a new sense of perspective, deciding that I would seek out the women behind the project, Amira Fateh and Zainab Majid, to answer some pending questions.
At its core, Empower Her Voice is an awareness campaign that promotes women’s issues, rights, ideas and passions. It does so, as Amira clarified to me, by operating on two main strands: the first strand is the EHV talks series, which hopes to spotlight girls in Oxford, giving them a platform to speak about their interests. The second is fundraising; currently, the Empower Her Voice team are engaged with a number of projects in Karachi, Pakistan and any money raised will go towards the development of a women’s centre, as well as the provision of creative and educational resources such as computers. Finally, EHV hopes to become a global community, branching out to other universities across the country and abroad.
As Amira and Zainab talked away, I recognised just how ambitious and impressive their enthusiasm for the project is. So what then do they want Empower Her Voice to achieve?
“It’s about creating a self-sustaining framework that can be transferred anywhere. We want to facilitate progress rather than to impose it – that’s why our project in Karachi is centred on providing opportunities for girls to develop themselves.”
The hope, Zainab explained, would be to develop a network of connections for girls everywhere, regardless of location, nationality and age. It is through these links that Empower Her Voice weaves all of its strands together. By creating a community of women who can express themselves, whether it is through learning in Pakistan or through talks in Oxford, EHV creates a safe and welcoming space.
At this point, I decided to ask them why they wanted to establish the talks in Oxford. “To hear more of our female voices”, Amira replied. “We take it for granted that there are thousands of wonderful and inspiring girls here, I just wanted to see them interacting and sharing their ideas with each other in a united space. That’s when I had the idea for the talk series.”
For Zainab, bringing Empower Her Voice to Oxford was about being able to involve as many people as possible. “Student Activism can often seem daunting if you are not aware of its etiquettes, EHV lets girls talk about anything they are interested or passionate about – it doesn’t even have to be specifically related to feminist or gender issues.”
“We want girls to remember that we are a collective, regardless of our background.”
Speaking to Amira and Zainab was enlightening. I thoroughly recommend going to their next set of talks, and checking out their website where, I am told, the last event’s videos will be available to view. EHV is continuously trying to expand its network, active at Duke University in the US as well, and if you want the chance to speak – drop either of them an email: