Anne Aly is the first Muslim woman elected to Australia’s Parliament and yesterday she delivered a blistering speech on what it’s like to be marginalized because of her gender.
Delivering this year’s Emily’s List Oration in Canberra, Aly, a counter-terrorism expert who was elected this year, argued that women’s full representation in Parliament should be a pillar of contemporary Australian society. Not only are women underrepresented in Australia’s government, Aly said she is frequently instructed to not complain about such inequity. “Too often I am told I must be quiet, a delicate flower, grateful for the equalities and opportunities afforded me because I live in Australia and not Saudi Arabia,” she said.
Her speech is especially relevant because it comes at a time when Australia is losing ground globally in terms of female representation in politics. The share of women in Parliament slipped from 42nd in the world to 50th after an election in July. But her message also resonates beyond borders and serves as a rallying cry for those fighting for gender equality.
“History is truly watching us, and we will be judged tomorrow for what we do today, so let’s find more women,” she said. “Let’s build a movement bigger than any of us have ever seen. Let’s disrupt, let’s destroy the joint and when we celebrate wins, let’s make sure all of us have something to celebrate. Only by doing so can we truly adhere to the core principle of feminism.”