BA International Relations and Security Studies
Maria is studying BA International Relations and Security Studies here at the University of Bradford.
She did a year as Women's and Campaign Officer for the University Students' Union, and is passionate about advocating for women's rights and gender equality.
A unique degree
"I’m studying BA (Hons) International Relations and Security Studies. I didn't know that the Peace Studies Division actually existed.
"It’s a very unique degree. I get to study peace, violence and regional politics, so it’s very diverse subjects within this area and the Peace Studies Division in Bradford is one of the first globally to exist.
"I always wanted to get into humanitarian work so this was one way of getting into it."
Understanding the issues
"I’ve been brought up in a single-parent family so I’ve seen the struggles of my own mother and I’ve also seen other experiences of the women around me and the female students on our campus as well.
"I’ve done my role as a Sabbatical Officer as Women’s and Campaigns Officer last year, so I really understand the deep issues that women are facing and this is something that’s really quite a close thing for me to work on. So this is the route that I’ve chosen that I want to go into".
I want to work in the UN in the women’s sector to tackle gender inequalities and that's what my main goal is, to reach there.
Women as Leaders
"I’m pushing for women to actually enter leadership roles. This is by the formation of a committee that I’ve created this year.
"It's for women to lead and do activities and other events that they’d like to do. It’s all based around female students participating in leadership roles and empowering themselves to be better than they can be.
"I feel like women are underrepresented in many ways. It’s not just on campuses, even across the UK, it’s everywhere. It’s a local, national and international subject and it should be tackled everywhere, even if it means tackling it at grassroots levels, which is the Students' Union."
Making a difference for other people makes me happy. I’m making a difference in someone’s life and as long as I can keep doing that, that shows to me that I’m actually doing something.
"I found out I’ve got a foot condition. I’ve got flat feet so I can’t have a lot of impact on my feet. Things like walking or vigorous exercises don’t help my feet a lot.
"Cycling was one way to loosen my legs and feel more comfortable in my own feet. I thought of picking up cycling, there was a cycling challenge that the Students' Union advertised to raise money for charities like Bradford’s Soup Kitchen and Students Minds, tackling mental health.
"I thought of doing this challenge and going on to a 400-mile ride. One of the lead organisers, he thought she’s probably not going to last, she’s not going to make it, she’s not going to turn up on the day. But I did and I proved them wrong.
"After that cycling trip, I did some cycling training as well and now I’m hoping to become a cycle leader as well and just inspire more women to enter cycling."
"I think in this community, there's a stereotype of women, cycling, especially within the Asian community, there is that stereotype that women shouldn't be cycling on bikes.
"I think cycling definitely brings a lot of freedom to a woman. It allows them to explore different places, feel healthier, feel more positive and independent.
"If you look at the Suffragette movement, what did the Suffragettes actually use? They used bicycles to ride around and get those votes and to speak about the issues and we see that emancipation and the courage and determination. It showed their independence.
"I’ve learnt even from cycling itself you do actually gain a lot of independence. It’s nice to cycle out there and to be able to feel independent and free from all of the worries around you."