Poem: Reflections from a student and woman of colour who chose to challenge.

By Shaima Dallali, City, University of London Students Union Vice President (Community Wellbeing)


I sat and asked myself what ‘choosing to challenge’ means to me. Upon reflection, I came to the conclusion that the mere fact that I am a woman, is a choice to challenge. My existence in and of itself, is a challenge.



I am a statement that cannot be erased.

A mark that cannot be wiped.

As a student, and now a student officer at City University, I came across amazing women who I believe can run the world. I have seen how women are the backbone of our societies and student groups and their progression.

From staying back after a society event until 9 pm or sometimes 10 pm to make sure the rooms are back in place and tidy and nothing is left behind, I saw how they would get together in groups and travel to Angel or Barbican station to ensure everyone felt safe.

I saw how these women would go to Sainsbury’s before an event to buy snacks for attendees.

I saw women spending time and effort baking cakes or cooking food to sell on stalls and raise thousands for charity.

I saw women leading societies and empowering their members to do the impossible.

I saw women using their voice to challenge and say no to oppressing our caterers and cleaners, most of whom, are also women.

I saw women passing policies to make life easier for all of us.

I saw selfless acts of kindness, and I also saw great strength.

I saw women making bold political statements and facing the consequences for it yet persevering through it.

I saw women challenging oppression, whether it was institutional or international.

I saw women making a difference in their City community, and I want to celebrate these women – today and everyday.

And yet, as a student officer, I sit in committee meetings with University members and many times, I find myself to be the only woman there. If not, one of the very few women. And definitely, many times, the only women of colour. But for sure, the only woman who wears a hijab – and to me it makes absolutely no sense because when you look on the ground, we are holding the pillars.

Therefore, when I say ‘our existence in of itself is a challenge’, whether we like it or not, these institutions we are a part of weren’t made for us. They were made to accommodate and serve the patriarchy. And no, this isn’t about us and them – it’s a fact. A lived reality.

So, girl, continue doing what you’re doing. Continue challenging and occupying spaces that are rightfully yours. Continue showing resilience and continue being loud, because:

you are a statement that cannot be erased.

you are a mark that cannot be wiped.

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