I think that being a woman affects everything in our lives, including not only the opportunities that I’ve had but also the oppressions that I’ve faced.
I would describe myself as 25, a woman, a writer and right now I’m quite warm and comfortable on a beautiful summer day in Canberra.
I feel very privileged and lucky to be in Canberra. My background is as an Indian Muslim from Fiji. We migrated to Australia when I was three to a country town called Albury in NSW. When I was ten we moved to Canberra, and being here has completely shaped my identity, particularly in terms of my political beliefs and my access to some amazing mentors, schools and universities. I think being in Canberra has been a journey that started before I was born with my parents. It’s been a long, long trek, but also it’s been a very short, successful and easy path.
Being a woman is the key facet of my identity that influences everything that I’ve ever experienced, and will continue to influence everything that I will experience going forward. So I see it as the most integral part of myself.
I think the best things about being a woman in Canberra are the women in Canberra. There’s such amazing networks here and when I think of Canberra I really think of the people that matter to me and that’s mostly the amazing women I’ve met through university, school or work. I also get to work for an organisation, YWCA Canberra, which exposes me to just more and more amazing women in Canberra every week.
I think that one of the challenges that women face generally in Australia is access to leadership opportunities. One of the things that can be kind of difficult or confronting about being a woman in Canberra is being at the epicentre of leadership in Australia and not seeing other women in those positions of power. This is kind of closer to home being Canberra because we walk past places like the High Court and Parliament House. These are places that represent leadership in such a strong way and represent our history and we can’t always access that.
I think managing your health and wellbeing is really contingent on your personal circumstances and the kind of health and wellbeing you’re trying to maintain. We tend to think of Canberra as a really affluent society, but I know that in certain regions of Canberra—particularly the Tuggeranong region and Gungahlin—a lot of people who have lower socio-economic backgrounds struggle to access the services they need to maintain their health and wellbeing. And even in terms of the other facets of life that influence our health and wellbeing—so for example access to food, access to safe housing and access to mental health services as well. For me personally it’s very easy to maintain my health and wellbeing in Canberra because I live across the road from the lake, so I can come here and go for a run or bike ride and just spend time with people who matter to me. I’m right in the City so I can access other health services. It’s easy but I’m always conscious that that’s a privileged position to be in, even in Canberra.
There are so many perfect days in Canberra! I think an ideal day would start with some kind of delicious brunch—I’m one of those annoying people that really espouses the benefits of brunching in Braddon! And I’d probably love to go to one of the gorgeous mountains around here, probably Black Mountain, go for a walk or a run there with my partner. And end the day with a dinner on my balcony with my friends and my cat. And because I have a bit of a habit of going horse-riding, I’d probably try and squeeze in a horse-riding lesson too, to make it ideal.
My three favourite things in life are my family, including my partner and my cat; I love reading and being able to access so many wonderful things to read and know about through the internet; and I love outside in the sun or near water.
Image created by Liz Thompson