Changemakers with Clare McKenna


Elizabeth Zion - Family Reunification

Season 3, Ep. 6

Elizabeth Zion is the youngest of my Changemakers so far – at only 19 she's been using her voice for the last few years to talk about family reunification. She serves on the global youth advisory board for UNICEF and currently works on the LIFT Ireland catalyst team, whose focus is building leadership skills in young people. She studies politics, international relations and social justice at the University College Dublin.

We have heard more and more over recent years about people seeking asylum or being displaced due to unrest in their home country but we hear less about stories like Elizabeth's. As you'll hear, her mother fled Nigeria while still pregnant with Elizabeth and with her 4 siblings, all very young at the time, Her father was willing to come with them and support his family but even as of recording he has not been able to secure visa application approval and they have had to make do with a visit every few years and phone contact. As you can imagine this has had a massive emotional toll on the whole family but also on their ability to truly settle here and contribute fully to society at times, so even on an economic level, this doesn't make any sense. Elizabeth and her family have found themselves homeless and have been tested more than many but she is grateful for the struggle which has taught her about what is important in life and she is determined to speak up for people in situations like hers, who might not have found the strength she has.

We talk about the effect of a broken home on a child and of course we live in a time when the shape of a family has changed, people can grow up with one parent for a variety of reasons and flourish. This is a different situation, a family who want to be together but can't because of a set of circumstances, not of their making, which they cannot control. We talk about the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child which recognises childhood is a special, protected time, in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity. It goes on to cite the importance of parents and family in this protection and that children have a right to family life. Elizabeth is calling for these rights to be prioritised and taken into account with visa applications.

For more on Elizabeth Zion click here

View her Ted Talk here

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Seyi Akiwowo - Staying Safe Online

Season 3, Ep. 9
Seyi Akiwowo is CEO and founder of Glitch and now author of How to Stay Safe Online – A digital self care toolkit for developing resilience and allyship.Seyi has had the most incredible journey – a force to be reckoned with she became the youngest ever black female councillor in London at the age of 22. When a video of a speech she made at the European Parliament went viral, it led to a surge in followers but also sexist and racist comments as well as death threats. This experience led Seyi to speak out about the online world, it's very much knitted in to our every day and there are so many positives, but there is so much we allow to go unregulated and unreprimanded. Seyi speaks of the digital platform as being a public space with us as digital citizens and we should protect ourselves in that space as much as we do off line.Today we talk about Seyi moving on from that traumatic experience and pouring herself into setting up Glitch, a charity looking to end online abuse through awareness, advocacy and action. We look at the fall out of online abuse including the sobering statistic that 43% girls hold back their opinions on social media for fear of being criticised. For black women it is worse, 84% are more likely to be mentioned in an abusive or problematic comment. Online abuse causes more issues that mental health, its infringing on human rights and eroding democratic engagement. We also talk about the boundaries we ourselves have to put in place in the online world.I saw Seyi speak a couple of years ago and was blown away by her passion and had so many AHA moments with things she was saying about digital citizenship and the online world. I've been hoping to speak to her since then and I'm so chuffed she chose to make time for this podcast to discuss her brilliant book.For more on Glitch which is packed with info and resources click here For more on Seyi's book How to Stay Safe Online click here