Getting Activ(ist)

Image of Dr Shakira Hussein talking in a video
A short video featuring Dr Shakira Hussein from the Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies, explaining that gender equality can be a basis to form alliances to address multiple, intersecting forms of inequalities.

As we head into Women’s Health Week for 2018, it’s timely to think about those aspects of women’s lives that could change in order to improve our health and wellbeing. Many of us could do with a little more fresh air and exercise, and perhaps we could cut down on our saturated fats. The benefits of adequate, restful sleep are definitely underrated, as is the practice of getting a regular dose of Vitamin D.

But individual health aside, when we think about the actions that will improve women’s health and wellbeing as a group, our thoughts go to a different realm of activity altogether. Instead of getting active for women’s health, we really should be getting activist. Getting activist places no restrictions on your diet or level of exercise, but that’s not the only benefit. The main benefit is that it leads to social and political change, boosting women’s status and access to rights, and moving us closer toward the achievement of intersectional gender equality. In other words, done well, getting activist always improves women’s health and wellbeing, with the added plus of doing it not just for oneself, but for the greater female good.

Getting activist can also be a constructive outlet for justified anger. As our new favourite musician, Mojo Juju, recently said of women and people of colour in her industry, “we are well within our rights to be angry and emotional.” Even at the level of the everyday, from online microaggressions and sexual harrassment on the street, to long-term gender-based discrimination in our workplaces and institutions, we tend to absorb the daily experience of oppression by turning it inward. This is not always the healthiest place for festering wounds. On the other hand, channelling negative experiences of gendered inequality into intersectional feminist activism can really create positive change, not only for oneself, but for the sisterhood.

This women’s health week we hope you’ll join us in getting activist. Your body, mind and sister activist will thank you for it.

Gender Equity Victoria is running a countdown to the Victorian election on 24 November. Go to and start taking action today.