I was born in India and lived there for 13 years before moving to Singapore and then to London for university. I found myself involved and interested in gender equality following my move from India to Singapore where I noticed how differently women were treated and perceived in society. I never really understood why they were treated differently and why someone’s gender was reason for providing them different opportunities and access for resources.
My interests outside of gender equality, I love watching and playing football and play a lot of FIFA. It’s a great way to relax and cool off at the end of a busy day or hectic week for me.
How did you get involved in the HeforShe movement, and why did you decide to join?
I got involved in HeForShe through the UN Women group in my high school in Singapore for which I was the student leader. We had someone from the Singapore Committee for UN Women come to our school and lead a HeForShe workshop which was targeted specifically to boys and we discussed gender stereotypes and how boys and men are subjected to them as well and why being part of the gender equality movement is beneficial to boys as well. The goal of this workshop and this movement in general was to get more boys involved in this fight.
I think being part of HeForShe was an extremely easy and natural decision for me as I always believed that boys should be involved in this movement. Far too often I have seen my friends, family and people that I care about being subjected to gender stereotypes or certain behaviour just because they are women, and this has never sat right with me. I felt that as a boy if I could contribute even a little bit to this cause, it could be beneficial. I also noticed the lack of men involved in gender equality or even realising that this was an issue, very often when advertising the UN Women club in my school, I would be asked why I am doing this as a boy or why there isn’t a UN Men club. This was something I wanted to change.
You were selected to give a TEDx Talk at King’s last year about gender constructs. Why did you want to raise this issue?
Like I said, I have seen my friends, family and people I care about being subjected to these constructs far too often. Moreover, I realised that throughout my life I have subjected myself to these constructs which has had ripple effects in my life today. Whether this includes taking football classes over dance, or not sharing the kind of shows I like watching or not opening up about my feelings to my friends - all of this has been due to the gender constructs that I have subjected myself too. I also believe that when both men and women break free of these constructs it can lead to happier and healthier lives as we would have stronger friendships, will be more likely to be a part of meaningful relationships and in general feel free of this burden that society has imposed on us. Additionally, during my time at the Singapore committee for UN Women, I led HeForShe workshops for them and some of the responses from the participants shocked me and made me realise how deep rooted these issues actually are. For example, during a word association game, a 10-year-old student said that he associates the words “men don’t cry” with the gender. The fact that this was a 10 year old's idea of masculinity really took me aback and made me realise that we need to start addressing these issues.
Who is a role model you look up to?
I think one of my biggest role models and someone whose shoes I would love to be in is Amal Clooney. She is a strong, intelligent, human rights lawyer whose work I have admired for a long time. In high school, for my global politics course, I based one of my presentations off her activism in favour of the Yazidi people. I think she has proven how capable women can be as lawyers and why they should continue climbing the ladder in this field. We see so many young women pursuing law as a degree at university, however very few in top managing role in the workplace and I believe Amal Clooney is a great example of what women are capable of and why we should not let gender misconceptions get in the way.