Jaya Gajparia, who gave a video interview to the Campaign about how studying social science has helped her, writes about her life:
“I have a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from City University (2005) and a Master of Arts in Human Rights (2008) also from City University. I went back to education after being awarded a full PhD scholarship in 2011 at the Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research at London South Bank University.
It has always been important for me to explore and try things out which is why I took breaks in between each qualification, where I worked and explored different cultures. My work experiences have been within the voluntary and community sector in England, working for disabled people, older and retired adults, women’s rights, human rights and pan-equalities work. All of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve always had a sense of wanting freedom in my work, the ability to make decisions and lead with determination towards what I think is positive social change.
I recognise that today I am privileged to spend three years in research training on a subject that I am deeply passionate about and committed to for my PhD. From a young age I became aware of the division of gender roles, and this resulted in a growing interest and passion for advocating for women’s and girls’ equality. Learning about the black feminist theory of intersectionality helped me to articulate my identity politics in a way that was almost liberating. I didn’t have to be defined by just one or two things statically, but I could be many things, ever changing, in and across different contexts, spaces and time. My identity didn’t have to be reduced just to being an ‘ethnic minority’ because the racists only saw me by my colour or culture, or because the P.E. teacher had made up her mind that ethnic minority girls don’t do sport. It meant that I was able to understand discrimination and prejudice could be experienced in multiple ways.
Thus, social sciences have helped me to understand some of the prejudice and racism that I experienced as a young girl growing up in northern England. Today the tools that I have gained from the social sciences help me to approach understanding the world through a wider and more detailed lens. For instance, questioning the presentation of information, understanding politics beyond the words, the ability see the effects that less sophisticated yet popular beliefs on topics like curbing immigration can have, the effects of capitalism on the environment, the effects of neo-liberal policies on the ‘poor’, problematising the concept of ‘poverty’….
Social science education has taken me beyond my learning days at university.”