So, tell us a bit about yourself?
Svenja: I’m very passionate about making a positive contribution towards a more just, sustainable and peaceful world. After my studies in international development, conflict studies, sustainability and humanitarian disaster management, I moved on to work for charities in the development and peacebuilding field.
Working in an environment where you’re working towards the same overarching goal of making a positive social impact is very inspiring to me. I feel very passionately about a lot of things, including peacebuilding, sustainability, climate change, human rights and women rights.
What sparked your interest and encouraged you to join the ActionAid Australia activist network?
Svenja: The ActionAid Activist network works across many of my interests; working on both human rights issues, but with a focus on women’s rights and equality. They also work in countries that are being drastically impacted by climate change.
What does feminism mean to you?
Svenja: In one sentence, feminism is about equitable rights and access to opportunity for men and women in all aspects of life and society.
What is the most rewarding part of campaigning with the activist network?
Svenja: Being among a group of women that are so passionate about the challenges women face here and around the world. It’s exciting to exchange ideas and opinions with other like-minded people. It’s also so inspiring to see the change an activist network can have and to realise that if a single voice is multiplied by others, advocating for legislative change, is entirely possible. I find this very empowering and it motivates me to continue my advocacy work.
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?
Svenja: I think women are confronted with so many challenges because of climate change and human rights issues that impact their daily life. I think equal access to decision-making is really important.
There are so few women being included in peace discussions or in trade agreements and other policy making. These policies affect their daily life and future, leaving women out of such crucial processes misses the opportunity to make agreements and policies for everyone in the community and also to take a more inclusive and diverse approach. We know that if we work together with people from different genders and backgrounds the results are more far-reaching.
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?
Svenja: I would ask people to be an ally and to ensure that women are given the space to speak, share their opinion and have a voice. This can be as simple as ensuring women are listened to in a team meeting at work. Small gestures like this can make others aware that it’s important to hear everyone’s voice; these seemingly small gestures can make a big impact when actions are multiplied. I think sometimes people might feel overwhelmed with the question of what they can do to support women around the world and don’t always realise that even the smallest gestures can empower those around and create meaningful change. This is something everyone can do every day.