Read her story in her own words.
““Hello, I am Sanobar Fatma and I currently work as the head of research and policy at ICLU.
I have been selected to do an MPhil from the University of Cambridge for what would be the first study to understand the evidence-based discrimination of minorities in South Asia.
I completed my masters from Jawaharlal Nehru University and was ranked among the university’s top one per cent. At St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, I was awarded the St. Stephen’s College Prize for Academic Proficiency. In college, I improved my art skills to sell my designs online, painting has what has helped me always through tough times. I studied in la martiniere girls where initially, I suffered from multiple health issues but later I improved my academic record to become the board topper. I was also honoured with the Sir Syed Ahmed award.
I started a share a meal campaign called Iftar4All from a railway slum in Lucknow. Today, it has now spread the message of peace and charity across three continents including the camps of the Internally Displaced in Nigeria and in more than a dozen cities in India which include the tribal belts of East India.
After college I worked for a couple of years as an assistant professor in a small town in Uttar Pradesh and taught, mentored students from the rural areas making sure that have access to resources required for higher education including making them aware of various government available to them to improve their lives. I briefly worked for Youth Leader for their award-winning educational media with a focus on changemakers across the globe. At the same time, I also started a community-based organization to increase the primary school enrollment of children and tried to bridge the gap between them and their access to healthcare services.
A year later, I started working with the Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India, Mr Sanjay Hegde as a Research Associate and in the process learnt from him about issues related to citizenship, migration, and rights. It was while working in the legal sphere that understood the historical background of the most important social, political, and economic issues. This is also the time that I realized the need for further understanding of law and democracy.
I have over the last two years published about issues of law and policy for YouthKiAwaaz, the Wire, Livelaw, the Citizen, NewsD, National Herald, and the Firstpost among others.
In mid-2020, I joined ICLU where I have helped organize workshops for women in rural India and those living in the tribal belts, to educate the people of India about their constitutional rights, legal remedies, and providing representation to the poorest. I have also started a program to make the law accessible and simpler for all citizens. More recently I coordinated the volunteer driven Covid relief program of ICLU which proved critical to countless lives and in return received a lifetime of blessings.
This academic year, I applied to six universities (five gave me an application fee waiver) and have got an offer for admission in all including the London School of Economics (ranked 2 for social sciences QS ranking) and Institute of Development Studies (rank 1 in the world for Development Studies QS ranking). But with the pandemic, many scholarships have been cancelled, taking a reduced cohort, or halting their aid for few a countries. I am hopeful of hearing back from them.
I have dedicated my career in pursuance of researching, documenting, and being there for those who are marginalized and the vulnerable. Through the course, I hope to understand what determines access to good healthcare, quality education, nutritious food and fair justice? Furthermore, how does being a minority shape an individual’s life? What happens when these minorities migrate from one place to another? Through academic activism and grassroots intervention, I hope to bridge the gap between research and public awareness and develop public discourse around the marginalization of religious, ethnic, and linguistic minorities in South Asia.
I have few personal savings and I am trying to raise a loan but there is no way I can raise the entire amount. Therefore this year, I am reaching out to people to help me fund my MPhil at the University of Cambridge "