SPS alumna recognised by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations’ Intercultural Innovation Hub
The United Nations has honoured the cultural impact of a project founded by a School and Social and Political Science (SPS) graduate that is providing professional opportunities to women facing intersectional discrimination in the job market.
The SWANS Initiative, founded by SPS graduate Martha Dudzinski, is one of 10 2023 UN Intercultural Innovation Hub recipients, recognising its important cultural impact.
The Intercultural Innovation Hub is a partnership between the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the BMW Group, supported by Accenture. It recognises and supports grassroots initiatives that promote intercultural dialogue and understanding, and contribute to peace, cultural diversity and inclusive societies. Of the 10 initiatives to receive the honour in 2023, SWANS is the only European organisation.
SWANS founder Martha is a 2014 graduate of the MSc International and European Politics at the University of Edinburgh. She founded SWANS in Germany in 2017 to provide professional opportunities to women facing intersectional discrimination in the job market. SWANS’ More Leylas in Leadership programme supports German-raised academics - particularly immigrant women, Black women and women of colour - to get equal access to employment opportunities and serves as a pathway to leadership roles in politics, business, culture and civil society.
The name - SWANS - aims to break down the idea that whiteness is an ideal of beauty, slenderness and elegance (represented by the swan). Its goal is to overcome external barriers and instead focus on skills, knowledge and qualifications.
The organisation offers workshops on career-related topics such as leadership, negotiation and job application training, along with a volunteer-based support system. It also offers capacity-building resources, including webinars, coaching, career advice and an application consultation.
On receiving the honour, Martha said: "Seeing all of these brave, dedicated and inspiring people from mainly the Global South who fight passionately to make the world a better place, it is beyond an honour to be recognised among them."
As part of the Intercultural Innovation Hub, SWANS will benefit from funding, as well as a comprehensive 12-month capacity-building and mentoring programme.
In 2022, Martha was shortlisted for a University of Edinburgh Being Edinburgh alumni award, which is presented annually to a former student who is making a special impact in the world.
(Pictured: UN-Under-General Secretary Miguel Ángel Moratinos and BMW Management Board Member Ilka Horstmeier presenting the award to Martha Dudzinski)