ActionAid Activist Spotlight: Selina

As COVID-19 continues to keep us physically distanced, it’s never been more important to stay connected to each other. We recently caught up with Selena in Melbourne to talk about their passion for women’s rights and campaigning for change as members of ActionAid’s activist network. Check out what she had to say!

06.08.20

So, tell us a bit about yourself?

Selina:. I’m a health promotion enthusiast and your modern day nomad. I spend the majority of my time critically examining health inequities or catching the next flight out – there’s no in between. Both my grandparents migrated to Australia from Greece in the 60s, in the aftermath of World War Two and their migration experiences have hugely shaped my passion for social justice and women’s rights in the global community. 

What sparked your interest and encouraged you to join the ActionAid Australia activist network?

Selina: I joined the ActionAid Activist network to get experience in human rights advocacy and campaigns, while completing my masters in Health Promotion at Deakin University. I wanted to use my voice to drive positive social change in our community and work with like-minded feminists to smash the patriarchy that exists in Australia and globally. 

What does feminism mean to you?

Selina: To me feminism is about speaking up to challenge the status quo and amplifying women’s voices in all aspects of society to create a world that is equal, inclusive and kind for all human beings.

What is the most rewarding part of campaigning with the activist network?

Selina: For me, it’s having your voice heard as a volunteer and being at the frontline of national and international campaigns. My first national campaign was for a Human Rights Watchdog in 2019 to hold Australian fossil fuel companies accountable for human rights and climate change injustices overseas. I got to meet Millicent from the Greater Phola Ogies Women Forum, who travelled all the way from South Africa to share her experiences with the Activist network on Australian mining company South32. Before I knew it, we had launched a large-scale grassroots lobbying campaign to raise awareness and bring social justice to the Town of Phola. 

Right now women around the world are facing a triple crisis: climate change, COVID-19 and economic injustice. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing women around the world right now?

Selina: Gender-based violence. The social construct of gender that is assigned to women’s roles and expectations in society is one of the biggest challenges women face in accessing education, employment, our basic freedoms and human rights across the globe. Right now, girls and women are out of school and work due to COVID-19 restrictions, which puts them at greater risk of domestic violence, forced child marriage, malnutrition, sexual harrassment and undergoing cultural practices of female genital cutting – this is why we all need to be feminists and leave no one behind. 

If you could ask people to do one thing to support the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights right now, what would it be?

Selina: Advocate for access to education and employment for women and girls in your community and abroad. Reflect on the patriarchy that exists in your world and consider the gendered beliefs, roles, expectations and stereotypes you have towards women, then challenge them – I dare you. We can all support the women in our community by actively challenging the status quo and creating opportunities for women’s participation and leadership in all aspects of life. 

If you’re interested in getting involved with a group of strong individuals working to advance women’s rights globally, then get in touch!