The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast

From the desk of Clare Hanbury

I’m absolutely loving the podcast hosted by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Ayaan is a Somali-born classical liberal. An activist for the rights of women and girls. Previously a Member of the Dutch Parliament (2003-2006), she regularly called for furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society and defending the rights of Muslim women. Now, a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Founder of the AHA Foundation, she regularly comments on today’s issues and offers a platform to exchange perspectives that lead to real solutions.

One of her first guests was Nikki Haley and the extract below is from their conversation. Nikki Haley is the former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

I have pulled out this extract for our blog as it is a really good exploration of the line between the reasons why we should both hold a child close and give her responsibilities and in a way that boosts competence and confidence. We hope that by increasing children’s participation and by recognising, praising, and supporting that role, each child involved will have their competence and confidence boosted for life.

Ayaan: I also love the story of how when you were 13-years-old, and when the accountant was going to leave she said, “Teach her!”

Nikki: It wasn’t until I got to college, I realised that wasn’t normal. It was the fact that my parents always believed you kept your kids close, and I was bored and I would go to her business and the accountant was leaving, and she needed someone to train and my mom hadn’t found anyone, And she said, “you know, look, I’m worried you’re not gonna find someone.” I happened to be walking past, as they were having this conversation, and my mom grabbed my arm and she said, “Train her! She can do it”. And she said, “But she’s 13” and she said, “If you teach her. I know she will do it.”

And so at 13, I was doing payroll. I was doing all the bank statements, I was paying the bills, and I learned early on because I didn’t know at that age that you didn’t do that. And I think that was the lesson of – when you take on a challenge, if you look at all the norms of whether you can do it or whether you can’t, you’ll always talk yourself out of it but when you’re just, you know, pushed into something, you know, then you go forward you actually find out you’re so much stronger, on the other side. My mom knew I was capable! I didn’t know I was capable! I went through my first audit. And that was quite an experience…

… I mean you look at other countries and when we look at, you know, certain things you want to take the best of those countries. My parents learned in India that you give your children responsibilities early, right? You know, you, you push them on challenges to see what they’re good at you, you give them, you know, opportunities to create confidence in what they are capable of doing. And so, you know, putting me to work at 13, you know, some would say, “Oh my gosh! That’s child labor!” the others would say that my parents were trying to show me how capable I was and give me the confidence to do that. So I think it’s all in how you, how you look at it and how you support a child growing up as opposed to, you know, assuming that they can’t do something or assuming they’re too young to do something.

Ayaan: Absolutely, and, as you know I’ve been fighting against child marriages, child labour, taking children out of school, and forcing them to do things that they don’t want to do – so those things are real. And we have to condemn them and we have to change those practices. But there has to be some kind of balance between recognising a child that can actually take on responsibilities and choices, and having a purpose in life can strengthen a child…


I HIGHLY recommed you listen to the whole conversation between these two extraordinary women!