Social Good Six Interview 37: Maryam Pasha

Social Good Six Interview 37: Maryam Pasha



Maryam Pasha’s mission is to give life to ideas. The world is full of fascinating ideas, knowledge and theories, but they are often complex, abstract or hidden away, and hard for broad audiences to access. Maryam wants to give these ideas the chance to change the world.


She founded, curates and hosts TEDxEastEnd, an annual conference in London (under licence from the original TED conference) on the theme of Society Beyond Borders. The conference takes 15-20 ideas and speakers from areas like science, gender equality, technology, migration, design, art, music and social justice and turns them into compelling talks or performances.


Maryam’s philosophy is to create experiences that go far beyond the traditional speaker-audience interaction. She has built TEDxEastEnd into a whole-day immersive event for 750 people with interactive exhibits outside the auditorium, spaces to share ideas over food and coffee, and art and public involvement selected from the most exciting local community.


She has worked with Migrants’ Rights Network and UnLtd to bring new audiences to the important human rights work and social enterprise goals they promote. She is working with the BBC on the future of digital media, and also helps companies to turn their ideas and messages into powerful experiences that audiences will never forget.


Maryam was born in Tehran and her background includes living in four countries, a masters degree in psychology, founding a charity to support women’s rights, organising the first Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide, and being secretary general of a Model United Nations. She is writing a book on imposter syndrome and regularly features in a news review programme on local radio.



1 – In no more than three sentences, please explain what you do 


I believe events are an opportunity to change the way people see the world by creating a transformative space filled with curated and compelling ideas and stories. In 2015 I made the leap from working in the charity sector to freelancing and set up my own company. I now work with individuals, charities and companies to give their ideas life by creating compelling and impactful events and talks.



2 – Who inspires you? 


Over the years I have been inspired by refugee and migrant women who have overcome their own challenges and at times very traumatic events to become leaders in their community. For example Diana Nammi who works tirelessly to bring an end to so-called honour violence, Hera Hussain who has galvanised a worldwide community of volunteers who use technology to combat violence again women and my own grandmother who was one of the first female doctors in Iran and who, in the 1930s, was the only woman in her university class.



3 – What is the biggest change you want to see in the world? 


Gender equality for cis and trans women and an end to gender based violence. I want to see this change for its own sake but also because it will have a huge knock on effect for everyone (men and women) in health, education, wellbeing – everything really! I aim to do my part by being a feminist and an ally, by actively curating a gender-balanced line-up and inviting speakers who raise public awareness about gender based violence and human rights.



4 – What would you like to be remembered for? 


One of the things I would like to be remembered for, based on what I am currently doing, is helping to surface world changing ideas and supporting individuals who are often unheard by society to be listened to. I hope to do this by creating public platforms for them to speak and also coaching them to speak with confidence and passion.



5 – What is the most interesting new idea you’ve come across in the past year? 


For the past year I’ve been researching and working on a book about imposter syndrome. This is the feeling that you are a fraud, you don’t deserve your success and that one day soon you will be found out – even though there is objective evidence to the contrary. I spoke about this in more depth at TEDxUCLWomen back in May last year. Although the idea of imposter syndrome has been around since the 1970s, for me it was a real eureka moment to finally have a language to talk about these feelings and to realise I am not alone!



6 – Finally, how can people engage with your work if they’d like to learn more/help?


There are lots of ways people can get involved with my work – here are a few:


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