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GV Board Elections 2017: Zara Rahman

Categories: Elections

Photo credit: Fiona Krakenbürger

About me

I am a writer, researcher and feminist with roots in the UK, Bangladesh and Germany. I have travelled and worked in over 30 countries, and I speak 4 languages fluently (and another two a little less fluently!). The piece I’m most proud of writing recently is this, on how immigration across generations has been affected by communication technologies [1].

Most of my work has centred around studying and working on social change and technology – through campaigning for access to information laws or accessibility of public data; working on data literacy among civil society and journalists; and lately as a researcher focusing on ethical and responsible data [2] issues in social change. Put simply, I’m fascinated by the intersection of power structures, technology and information.

GV and Me

My first post for GV was in 2015, but I followed avidly online (and, I’ll admit, lurked on the mailing lists) for a long while before that. It's testament to the welcoming nature of the GV Community that I feel so at home here in such a short time.

I started writing because the pieces I wanted to read didn’t exist: specifically, analysing how political changes in Bangladesh were being combined with the government's use of technology to control protests. I'm incredibly grateful that GV provided that platform for me. Since then, I’ve focused mostly on writing for Advox about digital rights issues in Bangladesh.

With the fantastic participants at the GVeX workshop in 2016

Last year, I was part of the incredibly inspiring Global Voices Exchange [3] workshop, where I learned a lot [4], and the conversations I had there have guided my work since. With Georgia’s guidance, I’ve also published a few more personal essays on The Bridge, [5] too. Since joining, I’ve had the opportunity to meet GVers in many different countries, and I love the instant bond that comes with meeting a fellow GVer in person.

I’ve been following the NewsFrames [6] initiative since it began, and I hosted a workshop for Connie early on in the project to help think about how it might develop. I think there’s a lot of potential for GV in collaborating with other media initiatives who don’t have the same diverse community that we do.

Being Volunteers’ Representative

In my professional work, I spend a lot of time thinking about information, power and trust – and how that affects society. In my mind, Global Voices plays an incredibly unique role that intersects with all of those that will only become more valuable. As I wrote last December, I believe that in addition to innovation, journalism needs trusted communities [7] such as GV. I wrote more there about the many strengths that I believe Global Voices has developed, and the reasons I believe GV is more important now than ever.

Moving forward at a time of high political turmoil globally, increased migration, and a decrease in trust in political institutions, I’m interested in leveraging our diverse network to understand how Global Voices can help fight the negative changes we’re seeing in the world. What change do we want Global Voices to make in the world? What do we need to get there?

I love the current model of seeking feedback from the community [8] in advance of GV strategy meetings, and I wonder how else we can make the most of our community in a respectful and sensitive way. As Volunteers’ Representative, I imagine that lots of my role would be to listen to the suggestions and challenges being faced by our wonderfully diverse community, synthesise these and present them to the rest of the board in an actionable and useful way, and I believe my professional experience will stand me in good stead for this role.

There’s no denying that the current media landscape is tough right now. Ad-centered business models have affected form and content of journalistic outputs, and one of the few ways forward that I can see is in non-profit journalistic models, such as Global Voices. I have the privilege of working closely with many people who are thinking a lot about and working on solutions to those problems, and I can’t remember how many times over the past few years I’ve pointed at the incredible combination of the Global Voices online body of work and offline community as an example of best practices for others.

In addition to this, I’d like to use the position as Volunteers’ Representative to make sure that volunteers have a friendly person to talk to, a place to share concerns and challenges that you’re facing, and someone to bounce ideas off and think about how GV might help address those concerns.

Finally, and probably most importantly, I want to say that it’s an incredible honour just to be nominated as a Volunteers’ Representative candidate for the latest round of board elections. The slate of candidates is awe-inspiring. I would truly be happy to be represented by any of them, and if elected, I would try my best to do justice to that high standard.

If you'd like to talk more about any of this, get in touch! I'm on Twitter @zararah [9], or send me an email [10]!