Coronavirus and Humanitarian perspectives
On today’s episode, I talk about public health and COVID-19. With a focus on race, white privilege, public health and intersectionality. To discuss these points and her journey, I am joined by Asil Sidahmed.
About My Guest
Asil Sidahmed is an advocacy practitioner with over a decades’ experience in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe in humanitarianism. With all her experience, this makes her the ideal person to talk about Coronavirus and humanitarian perspectives.
Her roles have included strategic advisor and operational manager, including projects that have aimed to reduce the consequences of conflict. She has worked in Syria, South Africa, and Lebanon. Her formative experiences were in Yemen which led to co-founding a Yemeni think tank the Sana’a Centre for Strategic Studies.
Asil is British-Sudanese woman, born in Prague. She is currently based in Brussels as an Advocacy Advisor at Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders’ headquarters. She holds a BA in Anthropology of Religion from Lancaster University and an MPhil in International Development from the University of Oxford.
In today’s show, we talk about:
- Asil’s leadership journey, her current role, and lessons she’s learned along the way. [01:35]
- Her experience studying at the University of Oxford [07:55]
- The experiences in Yemen that shaped her future career. [20:03]
- Her thoughts about how the current pandemic is being managed. [22:33]
- How privilege blinds people. [28:52]
- Three things that the humanitarian or development sector could do to improve cultural inclusion in a genuine way. [33:28]
- How she looks after her mental health. [35:58]
Connect with my guest:
- Connect with Asil Sidahmed on Twitter
- It was strange to me, having grown up in such a diverse place like Harringay, North London, to suddenly be confronted with a place like Oxford that felt like the belly of colonialism.
- The University of Oxford was a mixed bag of experiences.
- I think promoting humanitarianism as an act of solidarity rather than you being there to simply rescue people is one way of attracting a different type of humanitarian worker.
- One of the things that my mother taught me was not to let other people’s opinions of you or the way that they perceive you shape how you behave.
- I was in the middle of the “good Muslim, bad Muslim”, us versus them narrative and never really knew which side of the narrative I was supposed to fit on. Neither of them really satisfied me.
Work with me
Why not book a one hour power hour video call with me?
I can help you:
- Focus on your priorities to manage your work-life balance in the way you want to.
- Learn to plug your “time leaks”
- Think about ways to stay connected during this period of social isolation.
- Communicate with your wider team more effectively whilst working at a distance.
- Reflect on your own wellbeing and what could work for you right now.
You can book a time that works for you using my Calendly: https://calendly.com/leylao/60min
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Remember to tune in to next week’s episode, where I’ll bring you more insights into mental health and inclusion.