“Up until this point I had been like the model minority….And then all of a sudden THIS model minority turns around and she thinks Islam is feminist? That she’s proud of this? That she doesn’t think that we need to change ourselves to live in this society? No no, this was unacceptable. All of a sudden I had become the controversial pariah.”
Yassmin Abdel-Magied started Youth Without Borders when she was 16, which she ran for 9 years. She then founded Mumtaza, an organisation dedicated to the normalisation of the representation of women of colour in positions of power and influence. She’s been fortunate enough to win numerous awards for her advocacy, but that isn’t why she do this work. She now travel the world talking to governments, NGO’s and multinational companies in over 20 countries on how to lead inclusively, challenge their structural and systemic biases and develop resilience in this world. Her TED talk, What does my headscarf mean to you, has been viewed over two million times and was chosen as one of TED’s top ten ideas of 2015.
She started writing social and political commentary as a teen, which led to publishing her debut memoir, Yassmin’s Story, with Penguin Random House at age 24. She followed up with her first fiction book for younger readers, You Must Be Layla, in 2019. Her essays have been published in numerous anthologies, including the Griffith Review, the best-selling It’s Not About The Burqa and The New Daughters of Africa. You can also find her in The Guardian, Teen Vogue, The New York Times, The Independent and Glamour.
She’s also done a bit of broadcasting: she presented the national TV show Australia Wide, a podcast on becoming an F1 driver and created Hijabistas, a series looking at the modest fashion scene in Australia. She’s also a regular contributor to the BBC, Monocle 24 radio and as a co-host of The Guilty Feminist.
Oh yeah – she ran a racecar team at university and worked as a driller on oil and gas rigs for four years, but that’s a whole other story