My Experience as an ActionAid Activist in Canberra

By Joannie Lee

Guest blog post by ActionAid Australia activist Joannie Lee.


On September 11 2019, I had the amazing opportunity to join 15 other passionate activists to meet our respective MPs and Senators at Parliament House in Canberra. We told them that our communities want women’s rights to be protected in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

RCEP is a massive trade deal being negotiated in secret between Australia and 15 other countries that’d cover half the world’s population. If the Australian Government signs this deal, huge power will be given to big corporations at the expense of women and their communities.

Why become an activist?

I started becoming actively involved earlier this year through a feminist training session organised by ActionAid Australia. Through this training, getting involved in my local group, meeting inspiring activists, and understanding the incredible privilege I have as a citizen and woman in Australia, I’ve been able to continue my journey thus far.

Surrounded by supportive members, I found myself easily integrating into my local group – all working together to achieve the same goal: to speak up and seek the change we’d like to see in the world. And to stand in solidarity with women in RCEP-affected communities whose voices are silenced or not being heard.

ActionAid Australia activists, Joannie and Shayma with their MP, Dr Mike Freelander

All of this led me to participate in ActionAid’s Canberra Lobby Trip. And what a remarkable experience it was! The most incredible part of the trip was being surrounded by and learning from other passionate feminist activists from communities all over Australia.

ActionAid provided us with ample support in the lead up to our meetings –  including a training session on how to engage with our MPs and Senators and how to frame our ‘asks’ effectively. Staff members were also there to support us in our meetings. I felt very prepared on the day of the meeting, and was able to represent my local community in sharing our concerns regarding RCEP with my local MP, Mike Freelander.

I felt proud that I was able to have a productive meeting with my MP. I’ve gained the confidence and skills to continue engaging with our politicians, and continue my journey as an activist.

Where to from here?

I can safely say that my journey as a women’s rights’ activist is only beginning. It brings me great joy to know so many incredible women accomplishing great things to challenge the patriarchy and achieve gender equality.

If you’re interested in joining Joannie to build a people-powered movement to stand in solidarity with women around the world, sign up here.

Or learn more about our #TransformTradeforWomen campaign here.