Yassmin Abdel-Magied is many things – a mechanical engineer, diversity advocate and what a lot of the headlines have focused on, an advocate of feminism within Islam.
This week the 28-year-old Sudanese-Australian returned to Sydney with her ‘author’ hat on to promote her new book, You Must Be Layla, a compelling read for younger audiences about the migrant experience through the eyes of a teenager who’s the only girl to wear a head scarf at her school.
Her book is designed to educate and inspire, and given International Women’s Day is this week, I asked Yassmin what it is she’d like Australian women to know come March 8.
“International Women’s Day and International Women’s History Month is an opportunity for all of us to bring forth and foreground the stories of women and find the forgotten stories and histories of women we don’t know much about,” says the Youth Without Borders founder.
“And also I guess coming into our own power, and encouraging people around us who aren’t women to get behind that.
“Some people come into that conversation only knowing about a feminism that is very white and very middle class,” she continues.
“If that’s where you’re at, there’s a whole other world out there that you can engage in.
“If you’ve never thought about feminism at all or if your feminism is very much religious-based, there are other ways you can engage and other ways you can encourage people around you.”
In an era of the #MeToo movement and greater awareness about gender equality in the workplace, Yassmin says, “Generally it’s a great time to be a woman.
“It’s probably one of the best times in history to be a woman, especially to be a black woman.”
Progress is to be celebrated, but the opportunity to build on that should not be forgotten.
“So [it’s] to kind of appreciate where we are but also not be satisfied perhaps and continue to push,” she concludes.