We caught up with Hanna Uihlein, who recently joined Media Defence as the Project Assistant for a new initiative in Africa. You can read more about the initiative, called Empowering Women in Digital Rights Advocacy, here.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Hanna Uihlein and I joined Media Defence about one month ago. Prior to Media Defence, I worked with an organisation for refugees and asylum seekers in Athens, Greece. Their focus was on providing legal information to the community. Before this, I worked in different political organisations in Palestine, Myanmar and Germany, alongside my studies.
What’s your role at Media Defence
I work as the project assistant for our Empowering Women in Digital Rights Advocacy project in sub-Saharan Africa. This means I’ll be supporting the project in various ways – liaising with partners, writing articles, planning events and conducting research. The project focuses on digital rights and freedom of expression online. But it also emphasises the role of, and issues facing, women lawyers and journalists in sub-Saharan Africa. That’s what I think is so important about the project. Especially because digital rights is a relatively new area in the legal landscape, it is crucial to help shape it in a more equal and inclusive way.
What are you most looking forward to in your role?
Firstly, I’m looking forward to joining such an interesting project and working closely with lawyers from the region. I studied human rights from a political perspective, so I’m very interested in how apparent universal human rights are adapted and politicised in different contexts. I’m also excited that my role entails so many different tasks. Because the project is not exclusive to one team within Media Defence, I’m working closely with different parts of the organisation, which I really enjoy.
What attracted you to Media Defence?
I’ve always been very interested in journalistic work, which is why I joined as the editor of my university’s student blog. So I knew I wanted to combine my interest in journalism with my academic background of politics. After having worked for other NGOs that focused more on development in a traditional sense, I realised I want to approach human rights more from a legal perspective. So Media Defence seemed like the perfect organisation for this. Also, Media Defence’s holistic approach appealed to me. I appreciate that our work goes beyond emergency support, tackling issues around freedom of expression in a systemic way.
Why is Freedom of Expression important to you?
I think the last few years have shown more clearly than ever how important it is to have access to information and to be able to express your opinion. Freedom of expression can be a very powerful tool to resist against oppression. Equally, the rise of disinformation and online violence against journalists has obviously undermined and limited freedom of expression. Therefore, it is extremely important to understand what freedom of expression actually entails. What are its limitations, and how can we shape it to be a tool for empowerment, rather than reinforcing inequality?
We’re really excited to welcome Hanna Uihlein to the team, and thank her for her time. If you would like to learn more about our team, you can read interviews with Laura McCartan here, and Olga Grygorovska here.
If you are also inspired by our work, take a look at how you can get involved here.
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