Interviewing Aashna Kaur: All About Revolutionary Women Empowerment Platform "Global Girlhood"

Ayesha Khan | Toronto, Canada Aashna Kaur is the Director of Social Media at Global Girlhood (pictured to the right) Social media activism. If you have an online platform, you are bound to encounter this term. With the ongoing conversations and protests surrounding police brutality and systemic racism in the US, many of us are finally using our platforms to push for justice. In the past week, my Instagram feed has been filled with resources raising awareness, highlighting ways to take action and recognizing the prevalence of the systemic racism that has been killing and hurting Black communities in the US (and around the world, too). What I think is incredible and gives me hope for this generation is that most of these resources are being shared by my friends and those with small online platforms. The Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum through social media because of various organizations, individuals, influencers and activists. An organization that has helped me learn and broaden my perspective on global racial and social injustices is Global Girlhood. Through the power of authentic storytelling and social media, they are revolutionizing the way women see each other and are represented in the media. They are also sharing important anti-racism and educational resources during this time. I spoke with the Director of Social Media at Global Girlhood, Aashna Kaur, to learn more about the incredible organization and the power of storytelling. Aashna is a rising senior at Cornell University studying Neurobiology and Healthcare Policy and is passionate about the work she is doing with Global Girlhood. Tell me about Global Girlhood. “At Global Girlhood we find and share stories of empowerment and normalcy from women of different races, generations and languages around the world. We have people on our team who translate various languages, allowing us to gather stories that many would not have access to because of a language barrier. Once we get these stories, we share them with other women on Instagram to foster intergenerational and intercultural dialogue. The stories we get may seem ordinary to some but we try to connect the stories in a way to show that women across the world aren’t so different from each other. The interviews we get from women are very diverse, we’ve shared stories from stay-at-home moms in India to women working on Wall Street in NYC. Although the circumstances do vary with each woman we interview, we have noticed how there are common themes and struggles in the lives of these women. We put the stories out on Instagram because the power of social media is incredible. Right now, with everything that is happening in America, we’re focused on creating a support system and making resources for people who need it most. I’ve made a few infographics for our Instagram page exploring racism in the US through a feminist lens. Our main job is to take stories from women through their art, dance forms and work and make it digestible so it’s something people can connect to.” Global Girlhood infographics taking an interdisciplinary approach to the current situation An important aspect of your organization is storytelling. How is Global Girlhood incorporating authenticity into storytelling? “What we’re trying to do at Global Girlhood is take every interview we are getting without snipping parts out or beating around the bush with the stories women tell us. We tell it as it is, authentically. It’s important to represent the different experiences women have without making it conform to what we think is ‘right’. One of the stories we featured was a woman who grew up in Dubai and then moved to India. She told us how she realized that she felt suffocated when she was in Dubai, compared to in India where she believed she was more ‘free’. She also said certain things that I, personally, would not agree with, but, it’s the authenticity of it that makes it real. As a newly-wed wife living in India, she said that sometimes women have to fit a certain mould because that’s what we’re expected to do and, at the end of the day, most women conform to societal expectations. As I watched the interview, I was thinking that this is something I would never believe in. But, as a 20-year-old and she as someone who has gone through a lot in life has had different experiences. We want people to not turn away from these stories, no matter how different these women’s viewpoints are. We want people to see that a woman’s perspective is based on circumstances and how they’ve been socialized. Storytelling does that by not cutting around the edges - we want everyone to see how it is for this specific woman. The stories we receive resonate with us and we hope it resonates with our audience, too.” What do you think about the rise of social media activism in response to the BLM protests? “You’ve probably seen the black squares on social media for #blackouttuesday. I know a few people posting these black squares and actively being racist when they’re not on social media. In some cases, I think posting on social media is harming people by being inauthentic. You need to be willing to change yourself first before you educate others on social media. I didn’t post the black square because, personally, I didn’t think that was an active response to the situation in America. Although it’s very important to utilize a tool like social media to raise awareness and take action for these issues, I think what we need to do online is not push people to do so much. It’s overwhelming - I know how privileged I am by saying that I’m overwhelmed. Imagine how people who deal with injustice on a daily basis feel. But, I think people shouldn’t be made to feel bad about not doing enough on their online platforms. There are ways to show up for the Black community without posting on social media. At Global Girlhood we are sharing educational resources through social media, so, of course, sharing and posting are great ways to advocate for the issues we care about. I just think people need to take time to read through the resources that are out there and really unpack all of its meanings. " What is a cause that you’re personally passionate about? "I am currently at Cornell University and I have plans to go into law school. I am focusing on healthcare policy at university because healthcare reform and equality is a cause that I get incredibly emotional about. I am a huge Bernie Sanders fan and because of that a lot of his policies have spoken to me. Although it’s ambitious, I want to be one of those people who can truly reform healthcare in America. A few years ago, I had plans to become a doctor to help people get the care they deserve. As I evaluated this profession, I realized that there were laws and regulations that told me what to do. As a doctor, I wouldn’t be able to help the number of people who are actually able to go to the hospital and receive care. It is so blatant how our systems are neglecting so many people in America, especially by race. We are now seeing how racial injustices have led to so many disparities and issues, with healthcare being one of the biggest ones. I try to fight for healthcare reform in any way I can, and, with a law degree, I think I can fight for it even more effectively." How can someone get involved in Global Girlhood? "On our Instagram bio, we have a link where you can fill out a Google form to become a Journalist or Connectivity Contributor for Global Girlhood. Journalists interview women in their communities and share their stories with Global Girlhood. Connectivity Contributors react to these interviews in creative ways. You can also put your idea down for how you want to approach storytelling as a Journalist with Global Girlhood. We’re open to so many contributions, especially in this time - we want more articles and interviews on what Black women are facing day-to-day." Connect with Global Girlhood on Instagram @globalgirlhood

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© 2020 by Maryam and Nivaal Rehman