Tell us about your role in NUS Wales, what does it entail day to day?
As NUS Wales Women’s Officer, my role is to represent all women and non-binary students in post-16 education in Wales. I lead the our Women’s Campaign, and work with a range of stakeholders to make women students’ lives better, including the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse, and Sexual Violence Strategy, action on tackling period poverty, and supporting young women in leadership.
I also have the privilege of working with our member students’ unions and their sabbatical officers, supporting them with their own campaigns on campus. My amazing Women’s Committee, made up of women students from around Wales, support me with this.
As Women’s Officer, I am one of NUS’ national elected officers, helping to guide the student movement throughout the UK.
No two days are the same! My job is very dynamic and I get to travel all over the country, and sometimes even further, getting women students’ voices heard.
What do you enjoy most about your role? What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I absolutely LOVE supporting student activists on the ground. There’s nothing that I enjoy more than interacting with students and sabbatical officers, and helping them run campaigns on their campuses. I also really love delivering workshops on issues that are important to me such as period poverty and ending violence against women and girls. These issues are so important and having a space to talk about them is incredibly empowering.
Having the opportunity to work with, and inspire, the next generation of student leaders and activists, and seeing their passion and enthusiasm, really motivates me and gives me hope for a brighter future!
What has your student/working career looked like to date? Have you always known what you wanted to do?
I studied Public Relations and Media Studies at Swansea University and graduated in 2017. After graduating, I spent a year as President of Swansea University Students’ Union, before being elected to my current national position.
Before going to university, my plan was a career in journalism, so I started studying English Language. Soon after starting the course, I realised I really didn’t enjoy it! With advice from my tutors, I switched to PR, which I loved. Through my course and getting involved with my students’ union, I was able to find my passion for activism and campaigning.
What first inspired you to get involved in student politics?
I’ve always had an interest in student politics, even when I was at school! I recently found some of my old certificates from when I was on the school council in primary school, so my journey started a lot earlier than I originally thought.
However, when I went to university, I had a real feminist awakening and felt a calling to fight for my rights and the rights of others – especially those whose voices can’t be heard.
Seeing and feeling the injustice that women faced daily made me want to campaign and strive for a fairer society. For decades, students have been at the heart of solving these issues, and now have real power to influence and change our culture.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
It’s incredibly hard to choose one as there have been many things that I have achieved in the last year that I’m proud of!
However, I think my greatest achievement to date is featuring on BBC Wales’ ‘The Hour’, where I was given the opportunity to share my experiences of everyday sexism and the lack of female BME representation in leadership. This was an extremely empowering moment for me and the feedback that I got was incredible. It gave me the confidence boost that I needed. Plus, I’ve always wanted to be on TV!
Later, in the year I was invited back to BBC Wales to feature on Wales Live as a panel guest discussing the issue of sexual harassment. This was another incredible experience and it was encouraging to see that these issues where being taken seriously in Wales.
What would you like to achieve before you retire?
World domination! (I’m joking).
There are so many things that I want to achieve! Apart from the usual of having a good job (preferably in campaigning and influencing), marriage, children, a few houses…
Ultimately, I just want to the world to be a fairer place for everyone and I would love to have contributed towards making that happen. Ending period poverty and closing the gender pay gap are two issues that are very close to my heart, so I would love to see these issues eradicated in my lifetime.
Who are your role models?
My mother and Auntie. Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Beyoncé and Sue Lloyd Roberts.
Were there any women that inspired you as a girl or young woman?
When I was younger I was obsessed with Serena and Venus Williams as they were the only successful black women that were visible to me as a little girl. I wasn’t fussed about playing tennis, I just knew that I wanted to be as successful as they were in whatever field I chose to go into.
Do you think that women role models are visible enough, do you think that more should be done to promote the achievements of women? Why do you think this is important?
No, they aren’t! Growing up, I struggled to see women that looked like me in the field that I wanted to go into, and even today I still struggle. There are very few visible women role models in academia, politics and business.
The fact that there are more people called David and Steve leading FTSE 100 companies than women and ethnic minorities is ridiculous and needs to be challenged.
Women’s successes and voices need to be elevated to inspire the next generation of women leaders. I am a firm believer of ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. If young girls don’t see women leading in boardrooms, being top decision makers, they won’t believe that one day they too could be leaders.
What do you think are the barriers facing women?
There are so many! The gender pay gap, work place discrimination, sexual violence and harassment, tackling imposter syndrome, the list is endless. However, we are recognising these barriers and are challenging them. Women are becoming stronger than ever and we are supporting each other more than ever before, even though we still have a long way to go.
Are there any barriers specific to your field/future field of work facing women?
The lack of confidence and self-belief is barrier to women wanting to work in campaigning and influencing. Also, the lack of flexibility in the field can be barrier, particularly for women that have had children. Finding that family/career balance can be incredibly difficult and can stop women from achieving their full potential.
What advice would you give your ten year old self?
You are not bossy, you are the boss! Be confident and believe in yourself. You are smarter than you think you are and have so much to give. Don’t be shy and speak up for what you believe in. Finding your inner voice now will help you in the future.
What advice would you give to other young women today?
Never dim your light to ignite others. Trust your instincts and never doubt your worth. Never feel like you’re taking up someone else’s space, you are there for a reason.