On Saturday 5th March 2016, I was given the honour to emcee an International Women’s Day event with the launch of Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s book, “Who do you think I am?” at Westfield Burwood.
ABOUT YASSMIN ABDEL-MAGIED
Yassmin was born in the Sudan, and her parents moved to Brisbane when she was two and has been tackling barriers ever since. At 16 she founded Youth Without Borders, an organisation focused on helping young people to work for positive change, in their communities. In 2007 she was named Young Australian Muslim of the Year and in 2010 Young Queenslander of the Year. In 2011 Yassmin graduated with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and in 2012 she was named Young Leader of the Year in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac’s inaugural 100 Women of Influence Awards. Yassmin has now been awarded Youth of the Year in the Australian Muslim Achievement Awards. And Penguin Random House is contributing royalties of her book, “Who do you think I am?” to Youth Without Borders.
During my discussion I was able to record some of Yassmin’s replies to my questions below.
Joy: Your book launched just five days ago, what inspired you to write this book?
Yassmin: I generally wanted to write a story I wished was out there. When I grew up, there were no stories out there about Muslim women, no one I could identify with. I had a chat with my mum and told me to tell our story. My mentors are my parents – Mum and Dad.
Joy: When you write, do you pretend you’re writing to one person or a group of people?
Yassmin: One. I started out writing like a diary. It was like a place where I vented. (crowd laughs)
Joy: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Yassmin: First I think, why do we need just one day? Why can’t it be everyday? Then I think it’s a good time to recognise and highlight important issues involving women, putting it out on the table for the world to see. It’s an empowering day for women. A day to discuss equal parity and gender equality.
Joy: How do you hope you can be an inspirational Australian woman in today’s fast-paced world of social media, changing perceptions and ideas?
Yassmin: Because there’s such a wide reach thanks to social media and the net, I hope people can look at what I do and say, “If she can do it, so can I!”
Joy: What advice would you give your younger self?
Yassmin: Don’t be in such a rush and just have patience. When I was younger I would be at full speed, and when mum asked me why was I in a rush, I’d reply, “I could die next week!” (crowd laughs)
Joy: You have received many accolades for your community work, is there one award that stands out for you?
Yassmin: Yes I once took up roller blading and I won a good VIBE award! (crowd laughs)
Audience question by Nicole: What would your advice be for more diversity in the media?
Yassmin: Take on jobs in the media and be engaging and connected with people in the media. Get sponsored by someone or be taken under the wing of someone who is established in the media and learn from them.
It was such a pleasure to interview such a humble yet inspiring woman like Yassmin. I wish her all the best. Yassmin’s story, “Who do you think I am?” is out now at all good book stores. EnJOY!