Culture. Style. Taste.

 

Culture. Style. Taste.

Wonder Women

This International Women’s Day Camilla honored the superheroes amongst us. Each of these women are fearless warriors, smashing down barriers and speaking from the bottom of their hearts. They are in the battlefield, fighting injustice head on with everything they’ve got. They are strong, and they are resilient. Every time they are knocked down, they get right back up again. They are crystal clear in their mission that no one should suffer like they did. It’s these kind of women who are going to change our world.

Khadija Gbla

I am a human rights activist, entrepreneur and mum. I came to Australia with my family as a refugee in 2001. I became a refugee at the tender age of three, and I was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM is one of the most brutal forms of child abuse and gender-based violence, and I experience it when I was 9. For the past 20 years, I have called Australia home. I am a single mother to a beautiful baby boy who just turned six. I am the lead voice and campaigner against female genital mutilation in Australia.

I advocate for the 11 girls a day at risk of FGM and the 200,000 in Australia. I am also an ambassador for Our Watch, the national leader in the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia. I raise awareness of domestic and family violence, its impact on so many women across Australia, especially those even further vulnerable like migrant and refugee women. They are made especially vulnerable by barriers such as language, adapting to a new culture, lack of system literacy, and the experience of racism further marginalizes them.

I am guided by my observations of those made voiceless, those who don’t have a platform, those who are made vulnerable by our systems, institutions, and society. I am always challenged to play my part, no matter how small, to challenge the status quo and advocate for the equality of all people no matter their race, gender, sexuality, ability, class etc. I believe that we as individuals are the solution to the challenges facing our families, communities and nation. All we have to do is act!

Who and what are you fighting for?

I fight for human rights. Whether it is fighting to raise awareness about domestic violence; making sure we have policies, processes and systems in place to protect women and children so they can live a life free of violence; fighting for the 11 girls a day who are at risk of being abused, and the 200,000 survivors of FGM in Australia who are in desperate need of holistic medical care, support and proper advocacy; as well as just fighting for human rights, for people of all race, gender, sexuality, class and ability, to ensure that we are all treated equally. That is who and what I fight for. My dream and hope is to live in a world where people, no matter our class, race, gender, ability, faith, have a quality of life that enables them to thrive.

What is your message to women on International Women’s Day?

My message for women and gender-diverse people for International Women’s Day is we should reflect on how far we have come in our fight for equality. Celebrate the milestones, resilience, strength, power, and everything we bring to the world. We must stand in solidarity with each other!

The challenges we face may look different for each of us based on our identities. Still, we must stand in solidarity and lend our voices to each other’s fight. We must acknowledge our privileges, be willing to listen and learn in a way that does not silence others’ voice but accept them. Let us stand in truth, compassion and allyship. True sisterhood means we are never alone, that regardless of our location, occupation, race, class, sexuality, faith etc, we will always have sisters by our side.

What does being a Wonder Woman mean to you?

I have been called a Wonder Woman since I was young. People consistently ask how I do it all. It is a state of mind. It is the ability to juggle all the different parts of my identity. Not aiming for perfection but just doing my best and making a choice every day to show up for myself as a woman, a mother, and a member of my community.

Being a Wonder Woman means meeting my needs. Resting when I need to rest, creating healthy boundaries, not people-pleasing, following my passion, contributing to my community, and giving back. It involves expressing my authentic self, standing in solidarity, being a true ally to other communities, fighting the good fight, and always challenging the status quo.

Being a Wonder Woman is not fancy, it’s not all glitz and glamour, it is about the ugly, the truth-telling, the forgiveness, the calling out to help create a world that is equal for all. A world that allows all of us to thrive and live to our fullest potential.

Who was your hero growing up?

For me growing up, I did not see many role models that looked like me, so it wasn’t so much about having one singular role model. So while I very much admire Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther, Malcolm x etc, more than anything, it has been my ancestors, culture and heritage that has inspired me.

I come from a strong lineage of strength, power, history, leadership, and resilience. I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, who survived colonization, slavery, war and were still able to make a way, able to survive and thrive. Their fight and resilience are why I can be me, I come from generations of Wonder Women.

Aj Clementine

I am a proud trans woman and I hope my story of glorious transition, like that of a caterpillar emerging as a butterfly, is one that is embraced and celebrated. Like all humans who set out to create and live their most authentic lives, I just hope to love and be loved.

Who and/or what are you fighting for?

I am fighting for compassion and acceptance of the trans community. Trans people have been present, and mostly celebrated, throughout the history of humankind, but in recent years the tone has shifted.

Judgement has created divides that have seen an increase in violence and oppression of trans people. Rainbows would not be as beautiful without their spectrum of color and it is in that context, I wish for people to embrace and advocate for their trans peers.

What is your message to women on International Women’s Day?

I would love for everyone to lean into their journey of understanding the LGBTQIA+ community. To seek out the incredible art out there created by and with trans people to increase our representation and tell our stories.

Documentaries such as Disclosure, award-winning TV series’ such as Pose, and myriad plays, books, songs and artworks that normalize and celebrate trans people if only more people would see them. I would love for people to follow my journey and share the joy of my very normal, lovely life with my boyfriend and dear friends.

What does being a Wonder Woman mean to you?

Wonder Woman means strength to me, she embodies courage and holds the most powerful weapon of all, empathy. We women are not in a race against each other, we are all running on different tracks, at our own pace. No-one needs to be the faster, stronger, winning at the expense of the others. There is room for all of us at the finish line.

Who was your hero growing up?

My hero growing up was my mum, she showed me that even if people are cruel and unkind to you for no reason at all, it’s your inner strength that guides you to better places.

Erin Molan

Who and/or what are you fighting for?

I am fighting for my little girl. I am fighting for your children. I am fighting for all young people. I am fighting for every single person in Australia and the world to make sure that the online space is cleaned up. I am fighting to make sure that no one else has to go through the harrowing experience that I, and so many other people, have gone through.

I am fighting so that the online space is treated exactly the same as the real-life world when it comes to abuse, harassment, and threats. I am fighting so that people do not take their own lives anymore because of abuse that they have suffered at the hands of online bullies. I am fighting for our children so that they can be safe in a world that is constantly evolving, and in a world that is constantly moving into the online space. That is who I fight for.

What is your message to women on International Women’s Day?

To keep fighting. I think it is so important to never, ever become complacent. But, having said that, to also acknowledge constantly how far we have come. It can be exhausting if you do not stop every now and then, look around and realize that something incredible is being achieved.

I guess that is what I try and do. Particularly with all of the campaign work I am doing around online bullying, cleaning up the online space and making sure our children and every single person in this country will never have to be subjected to that kind of abuse. Getting legislation introduced into parliament was an incredible achievement. We need to celebrate those kinds of wins.

What does being a Wonder Woman mean to you?

Find what your passionate about and fight so hard for it. Whether it is for yourself, for your own opportunity, for a career you want, for a job that you want, whether it is to change the world, whether it is to save someone, whether it’s to start a foundation, whether it’s to join a charity – whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. Fight for it every single day because I tell you what – it is worth it.

This is a hard one. I find it hard to describe myself as a Wonder Woman. To even acknowledge that I am some part Wonder Woman is quite uncomfortable for me. But it is probably a good thing for all of us to start to embrace some of that. We women need to start owning things that we are doing well, rather than passing them off as not a big deal.

I think that is something that I’m trying to work on myself: to not always be so self-deprecating. To sometimes say actually, ‘Yes something I’ve done is actually amazing and I’m so super incredibly proud of that.’ That is how I want my daughter to view her achievements as she goes throughout her life.

I guess my passion for charity would be a big part of what I like most about myself. There are so many different organizations I work with that I care deeply about. And then of course all the work that I am trying to do in the online bullying space. To use some pretty horrific and harrowing experiences that I’ve had and turn them into a positive to try and protect others.

And of-course being a mum! My most important job in the entire world is being Eliza’s mum. It is the one that I take the most pride in, it is the one I try the hardest at, and it’s the one that if I ever don’t feel up to scratch with, that I am the most disappointed in myself. So yeah, if I nail that one on a daily basis, then absolutely that is being a Wonder Woman for me.

Who was your hero growing up?

Definitely my parents – my mum and my dad. I am so blessed to have two parents that were just phenomenal in every single way. They equipped me and my siblings with so many life skills that have served me so well – resilience and work ethic.

When we were growing up, Mum always said that nothing else matters if you are healthy and you are happy. That has become the basis for every decision we made in life. They encouraged us to achieve and to study and to pursue whatever dreams we wanted to, but at the crux of every single thing we did it was: ‘Will it make you happy and are you healthy?’ And that was always the most important thing.

 

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