Nasra Ayub is an activist, freelance writer and civil servant. Nasra has been working with the charity Integrate UK since the age of 15 tackling violence against women and girls, including FGM and violent extremism. Nasra has represented the charity at high profile events both nationally and internationally, notably at the African Union in Ethiopia and in Gothenburg, Sweden where she worked with the Swedish government.
Over the years, Nasra has consulted many ministers in the United Kingdom including the former and current Prime Ministers. Nasra has also been on high-profile panel discussions on gender equality and humanrights alongside noteable people such as actress Emma Watson. Nasra has been featured in the BBC Three video “Things Not to Say…FGM survivors and campaigners” and has been called a ‘modern day suffragette’ by the BBC for her work.
Nasra was recently awarded the Diana Award 2020 for her activism and work. She also writes on topics such as race, gender and youth activism and has been featured in BBC One, the i paper and Metro UK.
Name: Nasra Ayub
Occupation/Role: Freelance Writer and Lead Outreach Worker at Integrate UK
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a doctor, and then later on a lawyer. I wanted to be a lawyer because I loved debating and thought that’s what being a lawyer would entail. Now I’m not sure what I want to be – I just know I want to make a difference in people’s lives.
Who were your biggest role models growing up?
My parents most definitely. The strength and wisdom that they have is something that continuously inspired me. My older sister as well. I think what I learned from her was confidence and not caring what other people thought.
What is one thing that you would like to tell your younger self?
Channel your loudness and energy into something you are passionate about. And follow the process, you will do more than you could have ever imagined.
What was a life-changing moment you experienced that shaped you into the woman that you are today?
A memorable moment was when I did very well in my A-Level results, because for a long time before that I was made to believe I wasn’t capable of achieving and aiming high. That time was such a pivotal point in me becoming a go-getter rather than letting others define what I could and couldn’t achieve.
What made you pursue your current career?
I love being there for others, especially young people. To be able to mentor young people and raise awareness on issues affecting them is very rewarding. I always try and remind myself to keep opening gates and removing barriers for young people in a way that I never had the same done for me.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day consists of working full time in the Office for Students at my university. It’s really interesting to see the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 virus on students and universities. I then have a nap after work and proceed to work on my other projects/emails if I can and have the energy to do so.
What has been the biggest obstacle in your professional life so far and how did you manage to overcome it?
I think navigating public speaking and working in general whilst dealing with an illness. I have to deal with fatigue, anxiety and not being able to process information properly and as quickly as I used to. I would say I am still learning to cope and navigate it the best I can with help from my doctors.
Which Somali woman inspires you and why?
MY MAMA. I love my mother so much and she is the most inspirational person I have ever come across. She is so compassionate and loving yet strong and firm and it is an honour to have her as my mother. Without her, I would not have been able to push past a lot of obstacles and continue to keep going when the world was against me.
What advice would you give to a person pursuing your chosen career?
Try and get experience in what you are passionate about. Whether it is emailing NGOs to join projects and seek opportunities available for young people, do it! And I am always available to contact and come to for advice.
How would you like people to remember you?
As the loud black girl who always spoke her truth!