Lula Lake is a second-year student at the University of Nottingham studying Economics and French. Enthusiastic about human rights, gender equality and inclusivity on campus, Lula has set up and become president of the UN Women UK Nottingham society, inspired by and in partnership with the official UN Women United Nations organisation. Impact’s Aidan caught up with Lula to talk about the newest society on campus.
For those who haven’t heard about UN Women UK Nottingham, what exactly is this society all about?
“The society actually encompasses more than the ideas of the UN Women Organisation. UN Women is a global organisation that is a part of the United Nations. It’s the first organisation that was recognised globally for fighting for equality and women’s rights. The society is trying to promote equality and inclusivity on campus. I actually had some trouble trying to set it up because there was a worry that it would be to close to feminist society. But I kind of said I wanted it to be more about raising awareness and following the specific campaigns of UN Women, especially because I’m kind of in conjunction with them and I’m working with them. It’s kind of just about promoting the issues that are still persisting worldwide and educating people on them and also encouraging people to make a change and encourage equality in their community.”
What made you decide to set up UN Women UK Nottingham Society?
“I was always a member of things like Amnesty International because I always felt passionately about human rights. But it kind of got to the point where I felt really dissatisfied with how proactive I was being. It felt like I actually wasn’t really doing anything, and I felt I was really passionate about it but I wasn’t making any change. I was getting quite frustrated. So, in the summer I contacted some organisations and I was like, look, how can I actually get involved more and make more change and I got a response from UN Women, which I was really surprised about. They asked to have a conference call with me. They said to me, “we’re trying to grow our university network would you set up a society for us?” The UK branch of UN Women is relatively new so they’re trying to get more people engaged and there’s now about 25 universities who have one of these societies, but Nottingham didn’t have one, so I set one up!”
What has the uptake been like? Are you happy with the reception the society has received?
“Yeah, I think it’s been really difficult because it is quite hard to actually set up a society especially because its such a long process and I missed freshers and refreshers because of the whole process. I think we have nearly 30 members, but I’ve got a lot of other people interested but I think because it’s so new – its only been 2 or 3 weeks since we set up – it’s going to take more events to engage more people. But I’ve got lots planned so in March we have the Trailblazers campaign. Trailblazers is about people like Greta Thunberg, Malala and others who are leading the way and making changes. The aim is to try and engage people and get people to be proactive. UN Women have sent us all this information and want us to make this huge deal. So, we’re going to have an exhibition, cake sale, film night and open lecture. We’ve got loads of event coming up. So, I think once that gets under way hopefully more people know about it.”
“I want to make it really clear to people that it’s not just for women and it’s not just about women. It’s about inclusivity and equality and I think the more societies there are like this on campus and the more people that engage with them, hopefully it will encourage a nice atmosphere and make people feel more accepted”
You mention the Trailblazers campaign, what other events and initiatives are you planning to organise?
“The first event is a cake sale on the 3rd of March just to start raising money. Then, on the 23rd of March I have been speaking to Savoy Cinema and they’re letting me hire out a screen for an evening to play Little Women even though it’s been out of cinemas for like a month, so I’m going to sell tickets for that to fund raise. All the money will go towards this campaign with the main things being leadership workshops for women in vulnerable situations helping them get out of poverty and be more employable and escape situations like domestic abuse, so it’s for a really good cause. Another way I wanted to raise awareness and help inspire people to make a change is the exhibition which is actually so exciting because its featuring 10 people in the local community who I think are doing really amazing things.
“So, I’ve got a photographer and got someone who’s going to write up bits of information. It’s got people such as a woman named Olivia Swift and she bought out her own maternity range to help discrete breastfeeding because she was a midwife and loads of women were coming to her saying that they felt embarrassed to breast feed or people were coming up to them saying, “what are you doing? You can’t do that in public!” So, she set up her own clothing brand and she does classes and she’s on the radio. So, people like that, who have disagreed with an issue and done something about it and made a change. So that will be really exciting. I’m hoping to have that on an opening night on the 24th of March.”
“People do want to make a change. Especially in our generation that sort of ethos of inclusivity is becoming such a big thing now”
Have you got any long-term goals? What do you see for this society going into the future?
“Hopefully we’ll just keep growing! I want to make it really clear to people that it’s not just for women and it’s not just about women. It’s about inclusivity and equality and I think the more societies there are like this on campus and the more people that engage with them, hopefully it will encourage a nice atmosphere and make people feel more accepted. Hopefully, we can open people’s eyes to existing issues because even people on this campus will be facing so many obstacles that people don’t really realise or can’t understand because they don’t know about it or haven’t been educated on it. It’s difficult because I’m going to France next year for my year abroad, so I really want to push it and grow it and hopefully when I’m not here it will continue! I really want to promote our ethos because I think it’s so important in daily life.”
Any final thoughts/comments?
“Like I said, I really want it to be an open environment for everyone and make everyone feel really welcome. I do really think it’s important. Also, it’s not just about on a local community level, its on global level too. It’s really good we’ve got the support of UN Women as well because it means we have outreached to other universities and all their foundations and their campaigns worldwide. So, I think its really important to know what’s going on and be able to support it. I also really want people to join because I think it will be good fun and I care about it so much and I’m so passionate about it and I think it’s just so nice when people feel passionate about it as well and get really excited about it. I know that so many people will feel the same and the attitude in society is changing. People do want to make a change. Especially in our generation that sort of ethos of inclusivity is becoming such a big thing now. So hopefully lots of people will feel the same as me so it would be nice for them to come and join the society!”
Featured image courtesy of Lula Lake via Facebook.
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