You guys would have seen Dunya around here before, so I’m sure she needs no introduction! But for the sake of being polite- meet one of my beautiful best friends, Dunya. It’s likely you may recognise her from her blog Dearest Deer, but behind the scenes Dunya plays a key global role to one of the most influential figures in human rights, Amnesty International- with a day job that spans so, so much more than just a 9-5. We talk all things social media, how to get involved with important causes and switching off from life online…
Dunya! Some of my lovely readers may know you from your beautiful blog- but today I want to talk to you about being a bit of a social powerhouse within Amnesty INTL. Firstly, can you tell us (if people haven’t heard) a little about yourself?
Of course! My name’s Dunya, I’m 24 and I’ve been working at Amnesty International for over a year and a half now. I have a blog (which I’ve been taking a massive hiatus from!) called Dearest Deer and I guess I should get it out the way now that I’m vegan, feminist, left-handed and into my vintage garms!
Some of us have heard of Amnesty through school talks or the power of the ‘net- but for those that aren’t familiar with the work of Amnesty, would you be able to introduce us?
Amnesty is the world’s largest international human rights organisation. We campaign on and with those whose human rights have been abused – from issues to do with corporate responsibility (like making Shell pay for oil spills in Nigeria) through to stopping abortion being seen as a crime, demanding countries give refugees a safe place, indigenous people’s rights, an end to the death penalty around the world.. to name a few! It always comes down to the rights of the human – no matter the conflict, we’re not political, we are simply documenting human rights abuses regardless of what ‘side’ it’s being inflicted on.
You’ve been at Amnesty for a couple of years now (taking over the world one step at a time)- what made you switch roles from a fashion environment to something focussing on human rights?
I studied International Relations (with a little Spanish) at university and I’ve always just wanted to help people, ever since I could remember what it is I thought my purpose was (hella cheesy!) I was pretty sure it had to always help people. Working in a fast-paced fashion company developed my skills big time, but my heart has always been with human rights. When the Iraq War broke out in 2003 I remember the discussions my family would have and it really ingrained that sense of injustice and righting wrongs.
Your job juggles everything from social media to presenting and informing people of some pretty sensitive and difficult stories- how do you manage this, and what does your role involve?
It’s very varied indeed! One day I might be advising on best practice for staff tweeting about sensitive issues, another day it’s drafting a social media strategy for an upcoming global campaign, working across the communications and campaigns programme to deliver an engaging strategy. I’m hoping to do more work in identifying global influencers to work with in creating content for our campaigns, so there’s plenty to come in the pipeline with my job still! Managing Amnesty’s global social accounts gives me a certain amount of autonomy- sometimes it’s hard to say ‘no’ to someone wanting us to promote a report their team has written, but my role is to always put the health of our channels first; knowing what our audience will engage with (and not care about!).
For anyone wondering how they can get involved with the movement- are there any tips you can offer for someone who perhaps isn’t sure where to start?
For sure! We have national offices across the world, so it’s best to start with our global page, www.amnesty.org and there will be links to get involved either online or offline, with volunteering or signing our petitions. It’s a movement of about 7 million supporters and members around the world right now, so you’d be in great company! It’d also be just as valuable, perhaps even more so, to help out locally so asking about more local organisations doing work in your area might feel even more fulfilling as it’ll be closer to home.
I think you’re an incredible example of a determined career woman who has followed her passion and worked tirelessly to do what she loves- do you have any tips for getting into your industry? How did you work your way up to your position?
Shucks, don’t make me blush Livvo! That’s very sweet of you and I’m very grateful to have such lovely friends like you!! I connected with my soon-to-be Amnesty manager at a social media conference and connected with her on all the channels – LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram…I did it all! Then I very sincerely messaged her on Twitter asking if she would be up for having a coffee with me at some point to discuss how to get in to the charity sector. I kept it very light as I genuinely felt grateful enough for her having responded positively. She’s a very busy woman so we never had that chat but it meant that when a role came up she direct messaged me specifically saying she’d not yet spotted my application and that it’s closing in a few days… that gave me all the push I needed to write as passionately as I could! I still remember feeling like they’d made a mistake when I got the call being offered the job…!
…and how do you switch off after a long day? I’m sure this is something a lot of people will be able to relate to…
Sometimes I don’t! But I’ve found reading really helps – I love the escape of beautifully written books like Americanah, and Miriam Toews’ All My Puny Sorrows. Also- I used to have my work email on my personal phone but I decided to get rid of that, as I kept checking it constantly and never felt like I was away from it. Detaching work emails from the phone I use for sending Snapchats and posting on my Instagram means I’ve got a clear distinction between Amnesty and my personal life.
Are there any women, across the industry- or even online, that inspire you? Who are your girl crushes?
I follow someone on Facebook called The Middle Eastern Feminist and I truly love everything she posts, it’s inspiring, passionate, sometimes it’s angry, sometimes it’s sad- I really feel I can relate to it. I’m also a big fan of Laurie Penny who writes so well about really important issues. It’s cliché but I adore Amal Clooney! She was representing someone recently and we managed to get an interview with her and I think she speaks so eloquently and has such an amazing job!
Finally! What’s next for Baby D? Ahem, you?
Oh gosh! I’m changing my mind all the time but I definitely would love to get a Master’s, perhaps get into International Humanitarian/Human Rights Law and maybe work for the United Nations or start my own organisation… I’d love to create something that brought together fashion and human rights in a way that’s never been done before. Watch this space! ; )