GLOSS Issue 21 APRIL 2015 - Page 14

beyond our own borders. Two thirds of Australia’s poor and homeless are girls and women. And as such, we need to change our narrative. I was away from my country for a long time… and truly, when I came back, I was shocked. And I think a large part of that is the blokey, sporting culture. The amount of money that goes into sporting events is absolutely enormous – and the idea of taking just some of that and putting it into education for women and girls - why can’t this be a reality? And it’s only men’s sport. There are very, very few sports even at the elite level where women are earning even a fraction of the money men receive. We need to chip away at this culture and speak out.” It is fair to say that the passion which inspired her to join the Army is very much alive and kicking, and is now driving her focus for change within Australia, both at a corporate and private level. This is not just about change for women within the workplace, or, as mentioned above, f or women who are not receiving everyday advantages; but for a change in perception towards anyone of difference. That belief in a change of narrative - the direction that our culture is taking - is inherently what drives her forward. “When I grew up in Australia, I was a migrant kid. I distanced myself from my background; assimilation was the buzzword, and the ‘White Australia’ policy wasn’t a theory. Now, I make it clear I am a Muslim woman when I travel around Australia. I may not wear a hijab, I have an Australian accent, and I wear modern clothes, but I identify with my background. I have had so many people come up to me and say ‘you don’t look like a Muslim woman’ or ‘you don’t sound like a Muslim woman’ and you know, I have to laugh, because it shows a surprising level of ignorance – but then I think, ‘well, now you know the many faces of Islam’ – because we do have many faces, just like anyone else. You know in the 1980s when there was a lot of very good work done by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual community to counteract the endemic fear caused by the AIDS epidemic, the statement was always made ‘oh, but you don’t look like a gay person’… to which the answer would be ‘that you’re aware of’ – and it’s a bit like that for me as a Muslim. A lot of those myths and stereotypes that feed ignorance can be removed – in a non-confrontational way – which is the only way to stop the prejudice.”