Date: 
Friday 8 March 2019

By Siobhan Ryan

Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan spoke about the marginalisation of African Australian women at an International Women’s Day celebration hosted by the Community Migrant Resource Centre on March 7.

The event celebrated African Australian women’s successes, including many speakers who have achieved highly in areas such as academia, health care, the arts, and community organisation.

However, the difficulties they had overcome to reach their success were not ignored.

As Commissioner Tan explained, African Australian women face the “triple jeopardies” of “race, gender and economic marginalisation”.

“The intersection of the three needs recognition because it amplifies Australian migrant and refugee women’s challenges when it comes to gender and race equality.”

Commissioner Tan also highlighted the importance of breaking down these barriers for young African Australian women.

Hawanatu Bangura, a young Afro-Australian social worker, writer, producer and director, spoke about her short documentary I am Black & Beautiful, which seeks to break down some of these barriers.

She was inspired to make the film as “an affirmation for black women,” countering some of the negative stereotypes they often encounter in the media.

“I wanted black women to watch it and embrace their black identity rather than feeling insecure about it,” Ms Bangura said.

Attendees also heard from Anyier Yuol, a young woman who sought to address similar issues by founding the Miss Sahara Beauty Pageant.

The pageant seeks to celebrate the diversity of African Australian women, and Yuol said it focuses on the women as a whole, not just their appearance.

Bangura and Yuol’s celebration of African Australian women not only contributes to breaking down barriers to participation, but also highlights positive role models in the community, a powerful counter against negative media narratives.