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“It is in times of crisis that great leaders emerge”

It’s Wednesday which means we’re talking about women! This would typically be related to revolutionary women in technology – however given the current climate the efforts of female leaders around the world during this pandemic cannot go unnoticed. As of yesterday, New Zealand officially announced that they’ve stopped the wide spread of the virus and the tough lock down restrictions are scheduled to be eased. New Zealand has their premier Jacinda Ardern along with the rest of the government to thank, Arden has truly shown assertive leadership skills as the country have recorded as little as 18 deaths since the first infections started showing in early March. Ardern imposed a 14-day quarantine on anyone entering the country on 14th March and implemented a strict lock down two weeks later, when fewer than 150 people had been infected and none had died. The UK went into lock down 37 days ago on 23rd March and the first cases in the UK were at the end of January so it’s safe to say we acted a lot slower on our lock down than countries like New Zealand.

Whilst plenty of countries with male leaders such as Vietnam, the Czech Republic, Greece and Australia have dealt with corona virus effectively – few countries with female leaders have dealt with the corona virus crisis badly and this should be praised. Ardern, 39, has shown the world that true leadership is sympathy, love and integrity. She has been seen as holding her nations hands through the lock down, delivering personal, empathetic “stay home, save lives” video messages from her couch and communicating daily through non-antagonistic press conferences and intimate Facebook Live videos, which in true modern style is her favourite medium. Her insistence on saving lives whilst keeping her kindness – urged New Zealanders to look after their neighbours, take care of the vulnerable, and make sacrifices for the greater good with a strong emphasis on shared responsibility which has united the country and won her many fans not just from New Zealand but from all over the globe.

Public trust in Arden’s labour government is greater than 80%, whereas in the UK less than two in five people trust our government to get us through this crisis in the most effective manner as a survey by the Opinium for the observer found only 36% of UK residents have trust in our government according to the opinion poll.

Being clear and concise

In Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, acted equally firmly, closing the Scandinavian country’s borders as early as 13th March, and a few days later all kindergartens, schools and universities were shut, and gatherings of more than 10 people were banned. That sharp decisiveness appears to have spare Denmark the worst of the pandemic, with fewer than 8,000 confirmed cases and 370 deaths. Frederiksen’s no-punches-pulled speeches and clear instructions to the nation have been widely praised. The country’s youngest-ever prime minister, whose approval ratings have doubled to more than 80%, has now begun easing its lock down. Unlike most other PM’s she even managed to show a fun side, posting a clip on Facebook of herself doing the dishes while singing along to the 1980’s Danish pop stars Dodo and the Dodos during the nation’s weekly TV lock down singalong – the British version would probably Boris Johnson singing along to the Spice Girls, which probably would have gone down like a led balloon with the British public!

Finland’s PM, Sanna Marin – who last year became the world’s youngest head of government at 34 years old – also moved decisively to impose a strict lock down, including a ban on all non-essential travel in and out of the Helsinki region. This has helped her country contain the spread of the virus to just 4,000 cases and 140 deaths.



Iceland’s PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir, has offered free testing to all citizens, not only those with symptoms, and has recorded 1,800 cases and 10 deaths. Some 12% of the population has taken up the offer, and a tracing system has meant the country has not had to close schools.

Female leaders such as these are modern day pioneers for breaking the stereotype that people in power need to a certain age or gender. When the world gets back to normality, these leaders should be introduced to young people through education as role models as they have achieved greatness through staying true to who they are and their values. Jacinda Ardern, the youngest PM of the last 150 years, the first PM to deal with a terrorist attack, volcanic eruption, climate change reforms and a pandemic all in 1 term whilst carrying her now new born child – these are female leaders of today that should be the role models of tomorrow.


Written By Sophia Ghahramani

Will the current climate change our ways?

Today marks the 50th anniversary of world earth day, first established on 22nd April 1970 and since then the threats to our planet have only grown in severity. Today we celebrate world earth day during a global pandemic, where day to day activities have been put to a holt worldwide and the earth has been stripped of its added necessities’ such as cars and planes emptying our streets and skies.

The pandemic has come after a time of environmental emergency as in the last quarter of 2019 the Amazon Rainforest fires increased by 84% which raised alarming awareness of our climate crisis through a social media frenzy with celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio becoming an advocate for saving our planet. Then came the Australian bush fires as they spread at a rapid pace across several states, resulting in people worldwide making donations and raising awareness by getting #PrayForAustralia trending on social platforms. So, let us take the time to consider how we can keep our planet more sustainable when the play button is pressed on this global pause.

How is mother nature thanking us?
Back in February an analysis by the climate group Carbon Brief found as the pandemic seized hold to China’s economy and heavy industries were shut, emissions from the country plummeted by an astonishing 25% which is the same amount of carbon emissions that the UK produces in a whole year. Until now, global emissions have been reliably increasing by a few percent year on year. In early April, the Carbon Brief analysis estimated that globally this year, emissions could fall by 5.5 percent from 2019 stats. The 5.5 percent figure tops the 3 percent reduction in emissions that followed the 2009 recession, where similarly economies were slowed, and people travelled less. But emissions bounced right back as the economy recovered.

This is our chance to reinvent cities
If the streets are the cities veins, then the cars are the blood pumping through them- however they are a pathogen. With cars now locked up in garages, air quality around the world has gone through the roof, according to a report by the royal college of physicians (RCP) each year inhaling particles of air pollution around 29,000 people’s lives are cut short in the UK every year. Last month, researchers at Columbia University calculated that carbon monoxide emissions in one of the busiest cities in the world, New York City which not surprisingly mostly comes from vehicles -fell by 50%.
We’re also beginning to get a taste of what our cities looked like if they were designed for people and not cars, cities in America such as Oakland, California and Boston have all shut their roads completely for cars meaning people can walk and bike safely without worrying about cars which if this was happening pre-covid would be boosting public health.

CSR is a long-term strategy
With more free time on our hand’s consumers are watching companies closely, this is a crucial time for companies to take up social responsibility. As Covid-19 has affected the lives of billions, people are now looking to businesses for support. According to a poll conducted on a recent Association of National Advertisers webinar, 20% of brand marketers have increased CSR spending as a response to the epidemic.
If you are a salesman or a BDM, you may not be hustling to maintain your day to day processes now because your products and services do not have the same sort of demand as they usually would. Do not ignore what is right in front of you and use the time that would normally be used to carry out these tasks and develop strategies that will help the business thrive in new market conditions. Building your organisation to be more sustainable makes your business become more efficient, improves your brands value and reputation, provides a platform for innovation, attracts and retains staff as 75% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible organisation and lastly strengthens your stakeholder relations.

With climate no longer being the crisis, climate issues have been crowded off the agenda – but how can we use this time to ensure mother nature can finally start thanking us when the 100th year earth day anniversary comes along? Maybe our sudden clearer skies don’t have to be temporary after all…

Escapism vs Exposure – which one benefits you?

The current ground hog type situation the world is currently facing has inflicted stress, anxiety and trauma to human beings worldwide. Everyone is different and as the human brain is very complex which means we all take different routes to coping with periods of uncertainty like this. People tend to either expose themselves to the reality of what’s going on in the world i.e. watch the news and never miss the 5 o’clock news update. Others choose to escape from the reality and focus on activities such as fictional video games. Personally, when the country officially got put on lockdown I never missed a 5 o’clock update and was fixated on the number of cases and deaths there were in the UK, which in retrospect made me feel on edge and anxious about my loved ones. Now I don’t necessarily escape the news, but I don’t wait for the 5 o’clock update every day and switched the BBC news notifications off my phone. Instead I partake in activities that I know make me happy such as home workouts, watching my favourite reality TV shows and playing quizzes with my friends over zoom. We should always be aware of what’s going on in the world, however if this is negatively affecting your mental state, then forms of escapism can really benefit you.

Production on TV shows and films have been put to a holt worldwide and movie theatres have been shut, even if they were open it would be a mere empty space given the nations rightfully reluctant to leave their homes to enter crowds with high density. As everyone is hunkering down to spend a long stretch at home this means one thing; streaming is booming. With some TV shows being used as a form of escapism, other people are taking the time to revisit films that are directly related to this phenomenon. Contagion, a film made in 2011 has been given an afterlife due to the content being an accurate representation of the current situation. Over the bank holiday weekend I myself took a break from my colouring book and watched contagion, I was left in disbelief that a film like this was made before this pandemic began as it was so relatable, however I do believe it’s made me tougher and more knowledgeable of what’s to come as for some people keeping fear out of sight only enables it to expand in size and intensity. Films such as contagion and outbreak allow people to vicariously live through the days and map out what will be left post-pandemic. Because our future is unknown this acts as a form of preparedness for the brain as we depict the thinkable, unthinkable and theorise where the average persons place in society will be.

Fake news
Even for people that insist on never believing what papers like the Daily Mail write, fake news has been inflicting fear on people worldwide. There has been fake news contaminating our brains circulating round the media and social media that the WHO (world health organisation) have added a ‘myth busters’ section to their corona virus advise pages which includes claims that drinking potent alcoholic drinks, exposure to high temperatures and conversely cold temperatures can kill the virus. Two weeks ago, my brother forwarded a voice note that was passed on to him by his boss’s wife who works in a hospital in London. The voice note that was supposedly from a Nurse proclaimed amongst numerous other things that a third of people dying of corona virus is going to be baby’s and people below the age of 30, two days later it was announced this was a fake voice note; however it sounded so real at the time. Whether you believe fake news or not, it still inflicts anxiety and fear therefore only believe information and guidance from reliable sources such as the NHS website.

Seeking distractions is a common way of coping for some people during this pandemic, and with bars, restaurants, leisure centres and other facilities shut until Boris tells us differently – people have been finding creative ways to maintain social connections and have fun despite being stuck indoors. With the power of Zoom and house party families and friends have been playing interactive quizzes as a means of keeping contact and having fun whilst doing so. According to analysts at Futuresource video games sales have risen between 40% and 60%. The increase is due to the release of animal crossing and other new titles such as Call of Duty: Warzone, which is probably not surprising to the girlfriends who are self-isolating with their other half’s glued to COD all day.

There is a fine line between being aware of current affairs and over-exposing yourself to the point where it becomes an obsession. Maintain distractions that interest you and make you happy and ensure that you’ll keep positive. There are no right or wrong ways to exist in this period of time, however exposure to negative thoughts will only make your time in self-isolation seem longer and mentally draining.


Written by Sophia Ghahramani

Education: Post COVID-19

In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has changed how students are educated around the world. Those changes give us a glimpse at how education could change for the better – and the worse – in the long term.

Picture by Graham Hussey pictures show A spotlight on Windsor.
This is Eton college.

Private no more?

All schools both in the public and private sector have adjusted in significant ways due to corona virus. One of the richer institutional private schools in the UK, Eton, which schooled our prime minister Boris Johnson along a lot of the ‘posh totties’ that start in the reality TV show Made in Chelsea, has offered 30% or more alongside financial aid, extended credit and future fee freezes. Independent schools are being faced with the reality that some may not return, and new recruits won’t join in the coming Autumn of 2020. The chief executive of independent schools state most independent schools in the UK are planning to shut unless they can find new owners or funding.

However, was this solely due to Covid-19? I can say from personal experience from going to an independent school from the age of 3-16, fees from students sometimes aren’t enough to cover costs of running a school especially in unexpected periods of uncertainty like the current climate. Two years after I left school in 2014, my independent school shut down due to being in a great amounts of debt with little funding and a reduction of new students year on year, which was alongside around 2 other private schools in the area at the time. With 50% of companies in the UK furloughing employees meaning a reduction in wages – will parents see the online learning worth the £4000 a term?
Classroom to cloud
Schools across the globe are having to restructure the way students are being educated. Unless you’re in University you won’t be used to the self-taught style of learning that you’re forced to adhere too. The question is – is online teaching just a substitute for face to face teaching or are we at a point where it’s a comparable or even better experience. Personally during my time at University I found I digested a lot more information through recorded online lectures than I would do in my face to face seminars and lectures. However, when I was lets say 13 – this would have not been the case.

Through the power of applications such as Microsoft teams and Zoom, there are new alternative ways to teach students. At a school in Lebanon students have begun online learning for all subjects even including physical education as students record and send over the videos of the athletic training and sports to their teachers as ‘homework’. However this is a stark reminder that the aim of education isn’t just to attain the best grades possible – it’s about socialising, having a shared space with peers in similar age groups and having a sense of community which unfortunately for people that are hermits regardless of the pandemic – technology can’t replicate.

Adapting to change
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of building resilience to face various threats, from pandemic disease to extremist violence to climate change and rapid technological change. The pandemic is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the skills students need in this unpredictable world such as informed decision making, creative problem solving, and most importantly – adaptability. To ensure those skills remain a priority for all students, resilience must be built into our educational systems post COVID-19.

How can students utilise this time?
Referring back to one of my previous articles which was around how conventional jobs such as lawyers and doctors are pushed onto us as the ‘appealing’ option’ in early education. Students can utilise this new-found free time to get creative with what their true interests are and research what the diverse range of jobs are out there for them- the opportunities are endless.


Written by Sophia Ghahramani 

Innovative Tech solutions in the fight against COVID-19 and boredom

How South Korea are flattening the curve

South Korea’s culture is naturally very social, they live and work in close quarters, they love to eat in the traditional family style, just like England when the ‘footies on’ they’re amongst the world’s biggest drinkers so sharing shot glasses is part of their etiquette. However the density and social culture are also breeding grounds for COVID-19, as the first case of coronavirus in late January went from 30 confirmed cases to thousands in a matter of days and for a period of time South Korea had the largest number of cases outside of China. However, from then until now the country has managed to flatten the curve of deaths and cases out of any other country in the world – but how? The power of technology.

The government are helping to diminish the fear of entering areas that have been infected by pushing out mobile phone alerts with details about confirmed cases and spots visited by those who tested positive. The apps alert users when they are near potentially infected sites. Residents showing symptoms flock to drive-through stations and mobile booths for quick, cheap tests, getting the results by text within hours. Those testing positive, receive health kits with masks, sanitiser along with other supplies; investigators interview them for details about where they have been and who they have been in contact with, requiring those in self-quarantine to provide regular updates via an app.

By mid-March, the number of confirmed cases began to drop, with recoveries outnumbering new infections. More than 338,000 tests have been conducted, with more than 8,900 coming back positive. Of them, 111 have died, putting the mortality rate at just over 1 per cent. However, like the UK the vigilance continues, schools and many businesses have been closed and entry measures tightened as South Korea girds against cluster infections and infections from overseas arrivals.

Technology that’s curing boredom
Whether you’ve taken up cooking, reading books or even become a home workout athlete like the Chinese marathon runner who completed 318 miles in his living room – like myself you’ll probably find yourself doing things to fill the time. Like Gordan Ramsey the chef who is famous for being fouled mouthed and cold hearted, is now posting Tik Tok dances with his children. But sometimes all you want to do is chat and have fun with your friends with a cold beer in your hand (not corona). Whilst Zoom and Microsoft teams have risen to fame for professional conference calls and even interviews, the house party app is now being used by the nation as a means socialising with numerous people once. According to Apptopia the app rose from an average of 130,000 users a week in mid-February to 2 million a week in mid-March. The app was initially launched in 2016 and had a youth focused target market, now according to data monitoring firm ‘App Annie’ suggests downloads from British users increased by 1,120% from February to March. The idea of the app is just like a real life house party you bump into people you may not have been expecting to see, people can join the conversation if they know just one person that’s on the call which means people you would have never met before can ease drop on conversations.

It’s not just your average Joe that uses this revolutionary app either, politicians and celebrities are also users of the app. Four cabinet ministers are users including Matt Hancock who is currently self-isolating with corona virus. But just like real house parties – the party couldn’t last forever. Users have taken to twitter, Facebook and Instagram to state their Netflix and Spotify subscriptions have been accessed by third parties and even hacked their bank accounts – which including myself has resulted in millions deleting the app of their phones. House party took to twitter to deny all the claims that the app was set up to hack users data and states there is ‘no evidence’ to these claims. They are even offering £810,000 to anyone who can provide evidence they are a victim of a smear campaign – could you become a self-isolation millionaire?

Written by Sophia Ghahramani