60 seconds with Rosi Aryal

Health and Research Project Officer and researching trekker

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Having recently moved to Melbourne, I’m enjoying soaking up all the arts, music, food and sport.

What talent would you most like to possess?
To always respond with genuine empathy when people come to me with their problems.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
Don’t just stick to the big cities. Australia has an incredible diversity of climates and landscapes, and each region is absolutely stunning in its own way. Well worth the effort to get out and enjoy it!

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
For most of the nineties I lived with my family in Hobart, which at the time seemed markedly mono-cultural. Cultural difference was not acknowledged, and I grew up absorbing this attitude. On a few rare occasions my parents would voice concerns about discrimination and exclusion, and each time I thought it was just in their heads. Moving to multicultural Sydney at 16 was a huge shock – I saw and felt both difference and discrimination more sharply, and I finally began to understand my parents’ experiences of racism. A few years later the Cronulla riots happened, showing not only how deep the undercurrents of racism go in Australia, but also how easily they surface. It was impossible not to take the riots personally. I felt unwelcome, simply because of my brown skin, in a country that has always been home.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know
My cousin Kripa in Nepal. In our early twenties we were lying on her living room rug one day pouring over a map, daydreaming about how we would love to trek independently through some of the more remote western regions of the country. Kripa devised an MA thesis plan related to gender and conflict that required fieldwork in those areas, and three weeks later we were walking from village to village and mountain to mountain interviewing young female Maoist rebels about their motivations for joining the insurgency. I love a woman who can make the most wonderful things happen in the most unlikely circumstances!

What are you reading right now?
The Spare Room by Helen Garner, a short novel about a 64-year old woman caring for a friend who has cancer and is struggling to accept death. As I will be working with carers for my project at MCWH, I love how Garner portrays the joys and burdens of being a carer with both compassion and humour.

Finish this sentence: “We need feminism because…”
Because women in our society are still sexually objectified and subjected to disproportionate levels of violence. Because women are still valued more for their looks than their person. Because women still earn less than men for the same work. Because women still take on the bulk of the burden of housework and caring work. Because men too are expected to maintain gender roles that stop them from fully expressing (or even realising) their emotions and their respect for women. Because when over half our population is socially devalued and disempowered, the entire population will never reach its full potential.