“I have the voice of millions of culturally restricted girls within me.”
– Aisha Parveen
“The disadvantages I’ve had growing up cannot and do not define me,” Aisha Parveen states. From a young age, she dedicated her life to making things better, starting with a first aid class. At King Edward VI Handsworth School for girls, she gathered a like-minded team and outlined a clear vision of a course in emergency care. She researched the most cost-effective way to conduct training and coordinated with the British Red Cross (BRC). They said that if Aisha’s team would help them fundraise, the BRC would train the girls to be qualified first-aiders. After those criteria were met, Aisha and her team coordinated subject areas and class times and instructed hundreds of eleven to thirteen-year-olds in basic lifesaving skills. She and her team were honored at a well attended assembly where they received Envision Awards for Emergency Care. The next year she became a senior prefect.
Upon graduation, Aisha’s achievements in secondary school qualified her for a unique program that widened access to the field of medicine for those previously unable to enroll. She had the opportunity to attend the medical school at Southampton University. She points out that only a few decades ago, women were under-represented in the field of medicine, regardless of their faith. Now, she will be happy to be part of the fifty percent of medical school graduates who are women, yet she also intends to be a passionate and unwavering voice raised to advocate for human rights, especially women’s rights and their access to higher education.
At Southampton, she became active in the Islamic Society and participates in charity raids. For example, the London Underground Charity Raid is an annual event where Southampton medical students travel to London, buckets in tow, and solicit charity collections in the Underground, wearing med school scrubs. After fourteen straight hours, she raised over two hundred pounds for the British Heart Foundation and Friends of Pediatric Intensive Care Unit—to the delight of her coordinator, who says, “I can almost guarantee Aisha will be the first one to respond” to a request for volunteers.
Aisha adds a touch of enterprise to her charitable endeavors, helping Yah Parwon and two fellow feminist HSI alums with their winning concept of PowerWeavers to sell botanical soaps. Though on different continents, the group will be teleworking to bring it together, dividing tasks such as social media releases, researching market trends, stock, finding funders, researching pitching competitions, and more. “I’ve always been quite business-minded, even though academically, I’m quite heavily science-based,” Aisha says. PowerWeavers hopes to help change the lives of young women in Liberia. Aisha also has a plan to make food carts with produce available to the homeless in UK inner cities.
Aisha dreams of establishing better health care in war-torn and developing countries. Horrified by the violence and tragedy that accompanies political upheavals and longing to work alongside like-minded people, Aisha hopes to raise awareness for humanitarian and social issues and make innovative plans to find solutions. “After all,” she says, “the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.”