Allow us to introduce you to the ever-lovely Anushay Hossain, Bangladeshi journalist and media personality based in Washington, DC., and founder of AnushaysPoint.com.
Her work is regularly featured on Forbes Woman, The New York Times/Women in the World, The Huffington Post, and The Daily Beast, and she is a sought-after commentator on politics and women’s rights for major cable TV networks. In other words, she’s a feminist media maven.
Anushay took the time to chat about micro finance, women in the media, the 2016 election and more. Enjoy! And be sure to follow her on Twitter!
Q: Prior to becoming a journalist, you worked on micro-finance for women in Bangladesh. Breaking into a career in women’s rights—especially internationally—can be very difficult and is highly competitive. How did you start such a career? Do you have any tips for our readers who may be interested in doing the same?
I worked at BRAC, the largest non-profit in the world heralded for pioneering microfinance for women in Bangladesh, for one college summer as an intern. The experience was crucial in shaping my identity as a feminist and making the relationship between women’s rights and human rights.
In Bangladesh, like in many countries in the world, the poor could not access credit and as we know, the majority of the world’s poor are women. But they are also a nation’s greatest investment and asset. Lending to the poor is the revolutionary idea at the core of the microfinance revolution, and the fact that women have such a high payback rate and they invest back directly in their families just proves what feminists always say: invest in women, invest in your nation.
Though this was an amazing experience and a huge honor, my journey in establishing my career, in the field of women’s rights still had a long way to go.
My tips to your readers would be to go out and travel. Get some field experience in a country outside of your comfort zone or even elsewhere in the U.S. to challenge your boundaries and widen your understanding of all the different ways women are oppressed —both culturally and politically—and denied many basic rights and dignity. Broaden your horizon and expand your perspective. And learn a foreign language or two.
Q: The status of women in the U.S. media is rather dismal; our voices are far outweighed by men’s. What has your experience been as a female journalist, especially one who speaks about politics (historically viewed as a “man’s domain”) and gender?
I think opinionated women throughout history have always been punished, even ostracized, by society for using their voices. Most cultures have patriarchal roots which encourage women to not have an opinion. Women and girls are taught and encouraged to not speak up, and that applies from speaking up at work to reporting your sexual assault.
Being from Bangladesh, I understand this image of America from the outside—that it is some kind of feminist utopia. So many men and, yes, women think the fight for equality in America is over. But when you look at online trolling of women—that not even American women and journalists are immune to—you really see the reality. It’s been stated that the people who receive the most vicious online hate mail and are victims of trolling are not only women writers/journalists, but those of us who cover feminism.
In many ways, we are going to have to fight for our spaces online the same way we did in real life, in public spaces.
Q: This election has, in large part, focused on women—from America’s first female candidate to Trump’s blatant misogyny—and it’s been posited that women may decide the election. Do you think Millennial women are as fired up as a voting bloc as their older counterparts?
Yes, of course they are, but in a different way. People are quick to speak for or completely dismiss Millennial women, especially if they are not 100% behind Hillary. But they are half of what is the most educated voting generation in US history, and they are voting on policy, not gender.
I understand how that infuriates passionate feminists or even Clinton supporters, but the fact of the matter is this is probably not the only time in their lives that they will have the opportunity to vote for or even see a woman as President.
That being said, now that we are down to Trump or Clinton, I really do not understand how any woman could vote for Trump. I mean, this man refers to women openly as pigs and is so disrespectful towards our rights and intelligence, and is dismissive of our health. I could go on and on. And no, Ivanka Trump does not make her father more pro-woman when it comes down to actual policy and facts.
Q: You write for Forbes Woman about women who are creating opportunities in business. Who has been your favorite success story?
That’s a great question. All of the women I profile for my Women@Forbes column are my favorite. I am always in awe of women who have the drive and skills to start a business, follow their dreams, create something that benefits people and societies.
Bold, smart women inspire me so much and anyone who can take an idea and turn it into a breathing business should be applauded.
Q: If you had to pick just one, who is your top feminist role model?
Hands-down, my mother is my top feminist role model. She was the first feminist I ever knew, and she was, and still is, very active in the women’s rights movement back home in Bangladesh. Growing up, she would drag me to her feminist symposiums and seminars when all I wanted to do was hang out with my friends after school.
Of course, now I am so grateful to her for introducing me to the world and concept of women’s rights from a very young age. She always made sure my sisters and I were aware of the life the majority of people, especially women and girls, lived in Bangladesh, outside of our social bubble.
She showed me from such a young age that we live in a world where women and girls are still denied access to food, water, education, health care and more, just because of our gender.
I owe my mother for my feminist soul.