International ‘why men say little’ about this day? 


It’s very inspiring to see women encouraging other women and congregating at marches to lift each other’s spirits to reinforce their worth and fight gender inequality in a male-dominated society. But where are all the men in this celebration? Year after year I wait in anticipation for International Women’s Day to see who makes that bold statement or organises a creative campaign to commemorate this glorious day, but much to my disappointment Its mostly women.   

Women marches, women appreciation nights/awards, inspirational talks- all conducted by women. Contradictory or mere coincidence that only women turn up? 
Although, let’s not forget and take a moment to appreciate the ever so handsome Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who not only expressed his gratitude for women on this day but did so in the language of love! All the more reason to swoon over him…but that is not my point. My point is, there are only a handful of men speaking up about #IWD and we need to change this. 
To the men who are vocal, I applaud you for your encouragement standing side by side with your female friends. But to the men with no sense of moral/female-being- this is only 1 day from 365 days where we ask you to give us some acknowledgement! 
Ofcourse, there are men and women who shun the idea of a ‘women’s day’ and argue that women should be celebrated all year round; and that’s okay. But on the one day you get the opportunity to be openly expressive as you like, why not embrace it? 
We’re not telling men to suddenly start fighting for women’s rights or sing Beyoncé’s ‘Who run the world…?’ from the depths of their lungs. Just have an opinion, whatever that may be, to show you recognise women and agree they add value to your life. In fact, be vocal as often as you can, otherwise women are at odds with themselves by being the only ones to recognise their achievements. 

Photo taken above is courtesy of Wrasac Dundee & Angus who organised a successful march in Dundee City Centre on #IWD 

Disclaimer: I do not hate men. 

Snapchat, Eid ul fitr and Social harmony

  
No doubt everyone had a wonderful Eid with family and friends this year. Everyone managed to make time to enjoy this religious and joyful occasion. After 30 days of fasting, praying, giving up habits for the sake of Allah, preceded a much deserving celebration. Eid is a special and momentous occasion celebrated by Muslims around the world. 
The essence of Eid lies in the heart of it’s people, the community. The spirit of Eid was really felt this year with the live snapchat story on #Eidulfitr- a social media platform which shares stories of what is happening around the world. 
Ironically, I am quite new to snapchat and have been left fascinated by the stories shared by people around the world. The story which first caught my attention was the one on Gaza. For those of you who are aware, we always get to see the negative side to this wonderful place. Amidst the war torn place, live people who wish to live an ordinary life and celebrate normality.
Likewise, a couple of days later, snap chat decided to do a story called #meccalive. A beautiful depiction of where Islam began. It was mesmerising to watch people all over Makkah, take short snapshots of the beautiful ka’abah at different times of the day. Some took video footage whilst circumambulating around the ka’abah, whilst others took snaps of praying. It was a beautiful representation of Islam. They were real people showing the real Islam. 

  

  

Lastly, the #Eidulfitr live story was even more fascinating! Everywhere around the world, people celebrated Eid which marked the conclusion of Ramadhan. People regardless of colour, race and age shared a common belief- a way of life and showed this through social media. 

These stories made me ponder and think about how fast-paced our world is becoming and how we need to embrace new ways to illustrate the beauty of Islam, in the light of vast media negativity. Islam- a peaceful religion, indiscriminate of people, preaches humanity. Regardless of what the media say about Islam through the crooked acts of a minority who use Islam to promote extremism, these snaps show the true essence of Islam. That essence which proves people are humble, peaceful and want to spread love. 

  

Social platforms, as well as spreading the indoctrination of the negativity of the media, can also be good in bringing about harmony. Stories like the abovementioned, are learning opportunities for many who are ignorant or choose to believe what the media tell them. They are an opportunity for many to explore the real people and real experiences. In this respect, social media has played a great role in bringing about great harmony. We have yet to see many more instances where religion is a source of positivity on social media but we are not far from this. 
Nonetheless I was quite content to witness that social media is bringing about social harmony on this occasion. 

Therefore I would like to wish everyone around the globe a heartfelt Eid Mubarak from Scotland, with love 🙂  
By Shaista Ali 

Embracing Nature 

  
We live a fast-paced life, working, volunteering and a schedule waiting to be met. For myself, I find it hard to believe how time flies working and living a busy life that it’s hard to stop    and think. It’s at times like these, you should stop, take a minute and listen to that little voice in your head that is telling you to give yourself a break. 

For a while I had been thinking- ‘I just want to get away!’ Go on holiday or do something to ease my mind and not have to think about ‘life’. The initial plan was to grab a friend and head to another city for shopping and a bite to eat. But even that thought exhausted me- get up, get dressed, buy more clothes I’m not going to wear, spend more money unnecessarily and come home having tired myself out! Worth it? Maybe if it was something you haven’t done in a while, but not in my case. 
As a teenager, I loved cycling, hiking and doing activities out of my comfort zone. I used to get a lot of joy out of it, knowing that I challenged myself. Then I realised, this is what I needed to do- go for a long pleasant hike out in the middle of nowhere! 
That is exactly what I did! Called my bestie, made a nice light healthy lunch and took off in the morning for an adventure! It was great to just get my hiking boots on, my hoodie and backpack and not care in the world what I looked like… Well apart from the time I wanted to take a ‘selfie’. 

  
We set off and drove to Glen Doll and went for a nice long pleasant hike. It was beautiful to hear nothing but the sound of nature, the sheep baa’ing at us and the sound of nearby waterfalls. The view was absolutely stunning as well as the weather! 

  
 I didn’t have a care in the world about anything for those couple of hours, other than being with a good friend and enjoying nature. The lack of signal on our phone was a bonus as it meant switching off from the consumerist and materialistic world and spending time with what is truly important- the people physically with us. Just catching up, appreciating the wild and freeing our mind was truly a momentarily blessing. I realised that we take time out to go shopping and do other activities but we never feel at peace. Just being in an isolated place and embracing the silence was fulfilling for the empty soul.

  
Then I came across this beautiful quote on a postcard which was fitting for our time and friendship we have had- ‘leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but memories’ 

  
Exactly what we did folks! 
By Shaista Ali 

Lessons we can all learn from the Earthquake in Nepal

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On the 25th April 2015, Nepal was hit with a deadly earthquake causing the lives of many. Over 5,000 people have been confirmed dead while thousands have been left destitute and homeless. Unaware and living their lives as normal as anyone else, the nation now grieves the loss of it’s people and destruction of homes and infrastructure.

As the coming weeks, months and years to restore the pain and loss of a beautiful country, takes place, what can we all learn from this tragedy. If anything, this tragic event should sadden us all and give us the opportunity to reflect on ourselves and how the love for humanity can be the saviour.

Love thy neighbour 

During a crisis like this, it is important to help out those who have been affected by the quake. It is heartwarming to hear that the Nepalese community- regardless of race or religion, are helping one another to build make-shift shelters out of bamboo sticks. Likewise, we too, can help our Nepalese brothers and sisters. Although we may be far away, distance should not hinder us from showing kindness and compassion. There are plenty of appeals that we can donate to such as the Disaster & Emergency Committee (DEC) dec.org.uk to help make a difference. Regardless of the passing comments people make about donating, trust me, the money you donate will be needed for the scarce resources, lack of medical equipment and emergency shelter.

Gratitude 

This is an important time for us all to reflect on our own lives and be thankful for the luxuries that we enjoy. They might not be luxuries or privileges in our eyes, but look at your life through the lens of someone who has just lost their loved ones, their home and have very little to eat and drink.

Stop Complaining 

It’s natural for all of us human beings to complain. We complain about minor things such as the weather, our jobs, livelihood- we are all guilty of it. This is the moment where we should stop complaining and start living!

Appreciate your loved ones

How often do we tell our loved ones how much we love them? Not very much! Life is too short to not appreciate the people around you. We are very lucky to have the relationships that we do, and admittedly, no-ones relationships are perfect and everyone has their circumstances, but we should put in more effort and treat everyone with kindness.

Humanity 

The earthquake that took place was a natural disaster and took the lives of thousands. A forceful shaking of plates below the earth is what has caused this and that is the natural justification for it. What about man-made destruction such as wars which have been taking place for centuries? Where is the justification for shedding blood there? There is none. Therefore, as much as we are all saddened by this natural occurrence, we as humanity have a responsibility towards one another too.

Reflect and Take Action.

Shaista Ali

Endure the Stress and Achieve Exam Success

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It’s that time of year again where people are rejoicing over Spring and enjoying the lovely weather. But for many, mainly students, this is the most dreaded time of the year- exam time! As students wait in anticipation to sit their finals, the stress levels rise, as well as the shots of caffeine and ‘all nighters’… Sound familiar?


Can’t remember the last time you did something fun? Forgot what freedom smelt like? Constantly stuck your head in a book or on a computer? We have all been through this and can empathise your struggle. For someone who has been to university for 5 years, having achieved a Masters at the end of it, let me tell give you some tips:


1. #BYOB

You heard it dude, ‘Be your own boss!’ Exam revision is a process which is entirely dependent on you. You need to be strategic and productive about how…

View original post 327 more words

Endure the Stress and Achieve Exam Success


It’s that time of year again where people are rejoicing over Spring and enjoying the lovely weather. But for many, mainly students, this is the most dreaded time of the year- exam time! As students wait in anticipation to sit their finals, the stress levels rise, as well as the shots of caffeine and ‘all nighters’… Sound familiar? 


Can’t remember the last time you did something fun? Forgot what freedom smelt like? Constantly stuck your head in a book or on a computer? We have all been through this and can empathise your struggle. For someone who has been to university for 5 years, having achieved a Masters at the end of it, let me tell give you some tips: 


1. #BYOB 

You heard it dude, ‘Be your own boss!’ Exam revision is a process which is entirely dependent on you. You need to be strategic and productive about how you’re going to tackle your revision and what you want to achieve! 


2. The Right Attitude 

As stressful and daunting exams are, you need to be positive that you are going to do well. Obviously that doesn’t mean you don’t work at all. But you need to attract the positivity and eliminate any bad feelings about these exams. The simple law of attraction states otherwise. 


3. Managing your time 

As much as this sounds like your school teacher or parent lecturing you, trust me, you need to be on it like a car bonnet! Use your time effectively to schedule in your revision for each of your exams. This will help you to identify whether you’re being productive or not. 


4. Reduce your caffeine intake

You’re probably laughing at this tip right? I know caffeine gives students the much needed adrenaline in order to compete with one another in those all-nighters and cram in so much revision. But you MUST and I say it in caps blocks for reinforcement; reduce your caffeine intake. Try drinking water to feel revitalised and continue the momentum of studying. 


5. Alternate Study Environments 

It could get very boring and lethargic being in the same place to study- whether it’s in your room or that quiet corner in the library that looks like suffocation in a box! Changing your place of study will actually help you remember your topic more clearly when you enter that exam hall. 


6. TLC

And lastly, there is only so much studying you can do before you drive yourself to the edge of sanity, therefore chill and give yourself some much needed tender loving care. Whether it’s a sport or hobby you have, don’t deprive yourself from the pleasures of life. #DontDepriveButPrioritize 


7. Self-Belief 

Exam revision can make you feel like you haven’t learnt anything enough to convey it or be assessed on. Stop, breathe and be confident in your potential! 


All the best! 


By Shaista Ali 

  

Productivity and the Right People

femmempower

I woke up this morning on a happy note as I left the house with a schedule in mind. Read my emails, did some work and reflected on my goals for the week and for the rest of the month. Regardless of being on vacation, I feel it is necessary for one to remain productive and enthusiastic about the future. Without goals and ambitions, we are lifeless and not really striving towards something.

For me personally, I want to continue striving to better my life through knowledge and experience. More importantly, with the right people. Having the right influence around you can make an impact on your attitude- towards work, relationships and life. The right people will remind you of your potential, dreams and turning them into a reality. I’m blessed to have many family and friends who remind me every day of how I should follow my dreams. If…

View original post 130 more words

Productivity and the Right People

I woke up this morning on a happy note as I left the house with a schedule in mind. Read my emails, did some work and reflected on my goals for the week and for the rest of the month. Regardless of being on vacation, I feel it is necessary for one to remain productive and enthusiastic about the future. Without goals and ambitions, we are lifeless and not really striving towards something.

For me personally, I want to continue striving to better my life through knowledge and experience. More importantly, with the right people. Having the right influence around you can make an impact on your attitude- towards work, relationships and life. The right people will remind you of your potential, dreams and turning them into a reality. I’m blessed to have many family and friends who remind me every day of how I should follow my dreams. If it isn’t through a conversation, then a lovely email from a friend across the other end of the world will remind me of my capabilities and to follow my dreams.

Inspirational and ambitious people are very important for your personal growth. Not only do they help realise your dreams but make the challenges feel more easier to face. In effect, those people are creating visionaries and helping you dream better. Without the right people in your life, you simply cannot function and remain productive. Your success is your own, but success also derives from the people you surround yourself with. So eliminate negativity and welcome positivity.

Here’s a quote to leave you with some inspiration:

‘Small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events and Great minds discuss IDEAS’

Shaista Ali

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My #16DaysofActivism Campaign on Violence against Women

Ever since I was aware that there was a particular day/month in the year to raise awareness on this wretched phenomena, I have been trying my hardest to advocate on behalf women. Not because it is the ugly truth, but because someday you might be faced with a situation where you need to help someone suffering from abuse.

The 16 Days of Activism campaign is a global initiative allowing feminists such as myself to become vocal and put a stop to violence against women. Movies, marches, educational workshops and creative social media activities, you name it- they are all a methodology to put an end to an existing problem in our society. I still believe 16 days are not enough to save more than half of the world’s population from mental, physical and verbal torture. But it is a start and a way of putting the issue to the forefront of discussion.

Last year, I did a social media campaign where I managed to get my friends from around the world to hold up a placard with a message about violence against women and say where they were from, i.e with love, France, Norway and India. The support for this campaign was overwhelming. Friends from Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan and Libya were all on board, as too were many friends from other countries. For me it was an example of showing everyone that violence exists in every country, however, there are many within those countries who abhor the act and will be vocal despite cultural and societal stigma.

Interestingly, since the campaign I am now seeing more people become more creative and take a stance against violence. Popular figures and youtubers are raising awareness to highlight the importance and concern. There is also a new video going viral about young Italian boys being asked to slap a young girl standing in front of them. The boys, aged between 12-16 refuse to do so on the premise that it is wrong to hit a girl. This is a fine example of educating and gaining the thoughts of young minds, to whom it’s obvious that hitting and slapping a girl is wrong. So then what about adults? What about men and women who are educated but still do not see the wrong in committing such a heinous crime?

Last night I watched a movie about a woman who thought she had the perfect life and family, become a victim of abuse by her husband who was highly educated and of great social standing. It just illustrates to you that the education of violence against women in particular is still necessary. You can gain all the degrees and have all the power in the world, but if you don’t know the value of women then you have understood and gained nothing from life.

Shaista Ali