Amaarah Garda is a Masters student in Applied Development Economics who wishes to conduct and produce research geared toward realising social justice. Amaarah has varied organisational experience including with the Muslim Students’ Association and Rethinking Economics for Africa. As someone passionate about solution-finding and protecting marginalised groups through economic empowerment; Amaarah attended the ASRI Future Leaders Programme seeking to develop analytical skills. While her interests span across socio-economic ills and humanitarian causes; she has a particular keenness to address gender-based violence, economic inequality, corruption, and poverty. Her modus operandi includes using social research to inform her activism while trying to make socio-economic theory and policy more accessible to South Africans. She envisions her future to be marked by a relentless pursuit of substantive transformation of our country.
I believe the FLP has a unique ability to springboard a sustainable future in social justice work. FLP struck a fantastic balance between theory, guest speakers and collaborative skills development. Being a graduate of Politics, Philosophy and Economics; I was revisiting theory from a completely different angle with ASRI – one which I deeply internalised and contextualised to South Africa. The theory was supplemented well with guest lecturers and organisations who highlighted how social theory does and doesn’t manifest in reality. In my youth I was discouraged from pursuing abstract goals like “social justice.” ASRI felt like a confirmation of my goals, proving why those goals are both realistic and necessary. Working through this journey of self-belief and self-development alongside such inspirational young people showed me that the youth are willing to and capable of righting the wrongs we were born into. This spirit of deep commitment to improvement stuck out– amid increasing national dismay at the corrupt, neglectful government; I virtually sat amongst creative individuals who convinced me that we can and will make life tangibly better in our country. My experience with ASRI also led me to my current internship with the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI). This internship feels as if it has paved the way for the rest of my life. Being trusted with important research work because I hailed from ASRI, while seeing what is achievable when people have a common vision of justice is exactly what I needed to develop conviction in my personal goals. Wherever my life leads me, I will be unable to remove ASRI and SERI from any story of my future success. Because of ASRI, I not only believe in the development of South Africa; but I believe I have gained invaluable tools and truths to play a part in delivering it.