What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I spent my childhood in the country and was obsessed with horses, so I wanted to be a veterinarian. Oh, and an Olympic horse riding champion, then a singer, then a business woman in Japan, until I came across the subject ‘Third World Development’ and was drawn to work on women’s issues in developing countries.
What happened in-between?
I studied a lot, moved to the Maldives (where my family is from) and started conducting research on violence against women, met lots of inspiring women, did my PhD, got married, moved to Bangkok to work for the United Nations, met more inspiring women and men, had a baby, published a book, had twins, moved to South Africa to run a global programme on the prevention of violence against women, had an emotional breakthrough, reassessed my life, started this organisation, and now I get to work with this amazing crew.
What are you doing now? Do you like that?
I’m running this exciting start-up and trying to balance that with being a mindful mother and pursue my creative writing passions. I love everything about my life. Although I’m still tired most of the time.
Does the patriarchy get you down? Like, do you ever just feel really annoyed by the way women get treated?
Yes, in the past it has gotten me down a lot. So much so that I’ve had to be very conscious about what I expose myself to. Since I’ve had kids I don’t watch the news much and I don’t do any frontline services work. So I appreciate more than ever the people who do. But mostly I’m passionate and hopeful. I’m an eternal optimist and I know I can be of more use to the world and to this issue if I stay that way.
Who's your fave feminist icon?