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Holding the line for women of colour as we embrace equity

Rising from generations of women who were denied an education, Nyadol Nyuon is a living, thriving testimony to the intergenerational impact that investing in women can have on our culture and society as a whole.

Nyadol is a people-made person, whose path to many great achievements was shaped by the generosity and kindness of the many remarkable women who surrounded her. With their encouragement and support whenever doubts that she would succeed crept in, Nyadol has emerged as a multi-award-winning advocate for gender and racial equity, as well as human rights. She is an accomplished lawyer, respected media commentator, and Executive Director, Sir Zelman Cowan Centre at Victoria University.

Nyadol is first and foremost a loving mother who hopes above all things, that her daughter will not need to fight the same fight that generations of women before her have given their lives to.

“I want to live in a world where gender equality is no longer spoken of as though it’s only of benefit to women. I have thrived because my mother, who was every bit as intelligent and driven as me, made a promise that I would not suffer the same fate as her. Like my grandmother before her, she was denied an education, forced from the studies she loved into marriage. By taking a stand, she has changed our intergenerational history and that gives future generations of our family the power to positively impact the culture they are part of.”

Born into a refugee camp in Ethiopia and raised in Kakuma Refugee camp in Kenya, Nyadol has attained two degrees since coming to Australia as a refugee at the age of 18.

“Grateful for the encouragement of so many women in my life, I now take every opportunity to use my voice and lived experience to advocate for others.” Nyadol has appeared on ABC’s The Drum , as a panellist on Q&A, and contributed to The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Saturday Paper, among other media.

Nominated one of the hundred most influential African Australians in 2011 and 2014, she was recipient of the Future Justice Prize in 2016.

In 2018 her efforts to combat racism were widely recognised, with achievements including the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Racism, It Stops With Me Award. She also received the Harmony Alliance Award for significant contribution to empowering migrant and refugee women, and was a winner of the Tim McCoy Prize for advocacy on behalf of the South Sudanese Community. Nyadol has also received the Afro-Australian Student Organisations Unsung Hero Award.

Equal access to education is just the beginning

“Women, particularly those facing other intersecting forms of discrimination, continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions, so we can’t become complacent. We must contend for our sisters to have the opportunities and resources they need to not just survive, but thrive.”  The intersectional dimension adds weight to the workplace inequity and harassment many Australian women speak of. “Our conversations aren’t nuanced enough to address that racial gap in intellectual representation of coloured women.

We need to elevate all women around us by bringing them along with us on our journeys, and making decisions that will benefit others, not only ourselves.”

Nyadol’s hope for her daughter’s future is that she exercises the privilege the women in her family before her have fought so hard to win, to pave the way for future generations.

“I have had intense conversations with my own young daughter, about her skin colour and how race might impact her experience in the world. I want us all to expand the inspiration available to young black women so they are not made to feel as though their interest in issues such as tax policy makes them weird.”

We can all follow in Nyadol’s footsteps by embracing equity within our own sphere of influence.

Everyone is welcome! 

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Flourish Australia’s FREE online webinar event

Let's do lunch with Nyadol Nyuon

Friday 10 March, 2023

12:00pm-2pm

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