Victorian women you need to know - Jamila Rizvi

Jamila Rizvi is an author, presenter, and political commentator. Her work and writing often centres around championing women everywhere.

International Women's Day - Victorian women you need to know

To celebrate International Women's Day, we spoke to six incredible Victorian women who #ChooseToChallenge every day.

To celebrate International Women's Day, we spoke to six incredible Victorian women who #ChooseToChallenge every day.

Jamila Rizvi is an author, presenter, and political commentator. Her work and writing often centres around championing women everywhere.

Q: This year we’re focusing on women achieving equal futures in a COVID-19 world. Do you think the past year has helped or hindered our work towards gender equality? If yes/no – why? 

A: "There are two sides to the pandemic gender equality story. There are the much-discussed positives. Free childcare meant equality of access for all parents and showed it was both possible and affordable for governments, even if it only lasted a short time.

Also, women went home from work, men went with them. For many men this meant they bore witness to the invisible workload of the women in their lives, perhaps for the first time. On the flip side, early survey results show that women and men both being home did not result in a fairer distribution of unpaid domestic or caring work.  

Women were also the ones more likely to be on the frontline of Covid-19 in underpaid, undervalued jobs like aged care workers, early childhood teachers, cleaners, and nurses. Women were also more likely to lose their jobs during the pandemic and while many have since returned to work, they are more likely to be paid less and be working less days than they’d like to."

Q: Who are the women in your community or circle that inspire you? 

A: "I spent much of 2020 working on a new book called Untold Resilience, which shares the stories of older Australian women.

I had the great privilege of spending lockdown on the phone with four women aged in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, who had lived through pandemics, world wars, and other periods of global upheaval. Their integrity, intelligence, good spirits, and grit were truly tremendous, and I was completely inspired by them."

Q: This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. 
In your own life, how are you challenging the status quo, calling out gender bias and inequality? 

A: "Much to my husband’s delight, I continue to challenge gender bias in our own home. 

Even the most equal of partnerships are influenced by inequality in the world around them. My husband and I are raising our son to be a kind, fair, empathetic, and generous person who understands the impacts of gender inequality and fights against them.

To do that, we have to be aware of our own modelling, consistently push back against gender stereotypes and have the difficult conversations."

Q: Can you tell us about an empowering moment or achievement you had recently? 

A: "During the long dark days of the Victorian second wave, our neighbourhood came together like never before. And of course, it was the women who drove that coming together.  

Although unable to physically be together we supported one another with grocery shopping, trips to the post office, emergency baked goods, and phone calls of support. It reminded me that achievements in my working career are important but pale in comparison to my personal desire to be a good friend and neighbour, and to empower the people around me."

Q: In your career and life, how has connecting with other like-minded women helped or shaped you?  

A: "I have always been drawn to creating and nurturing communities of women, and similarly have been nurtured by those communities myself. Today, many of those communities are confined to the virtual world and yet remain warm, generous, and empowering.  

I have benefited personally from the mentorship of some phenomenal women including Kate Ellis and Helen McCabe. And I hope that I am passing their goodwill and guidance onto future generations of women in politics and media."

Q: Your book, Not Just Lucky helps encourage women to take hold of their hard work and acknowledge their achievements. If you had to add a new chapter into that book today, what would it be about? 

A: "In Not Just Lucky I spoke about how to apply for the job you want, how to manage teams, how to work with difficult bosses, and how to connect with other women at work.  

I did not write about how to quit a job and why. So many women I speak with feel trapped in workplaces that are unfair or unequal, where their work isn’t recognised or they are underpaid, or worse still where they are harassed or diminished. I would love to go back in time and talk to women about how to call time on a job in a toxic workplace."

Jamila is the Chief Creative Officer of Nine Network's Future Women , a personal and professional network for connecting women. She is the author of books  Not Just Lucky a career manifesto for milennial women, The Motherhood an anthology of letters for new mothers, and most recently  Untold Resilience a collection of stories about older Australian women who have overcome hardship.

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