10 amazing female Australian activists fighting for intersectional equality across gender, sexuality, race and ability on social media. Follow these empowering ladies now!
Ah, social media. It’s everywhere. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook…. It can be exhausting. There’s a reason we sometimes feel the need to unplug, disconnect and take detoxes. From constantly being bombarded with photoshopped models, the latest world catastrophe, our weird Uncle’s bigoted Facebook rants, and carefully curated newsfeeds of the best version of everyone’s lives, it’s no wonder social media, which is meant to connect us, can make you feel just the opposite of what it’s supposed to – isolated, negative, uninspired.
But with social media’s ever-increasing presence in our everyday life and growing influence, users have begun to implement it as a method of communicating a greater message to a larger audience. The push for equality has evolved along with technology, and social media can now be used as a real and productive platform for activism and revolution. The number of change-makers using social media to spread their word is constantly on the rise, bringing a fresh and necessary dose of positivity, inspiration and diversity to your newsfeed.
Despite being a small country, Australians have been a loud and impactful voice in the digital landscape pushing for diversity and change, with so many incredible, homegrown Australian activists making their voices heard – particularly Australian women. We’ve decided to round up our ten favourite female-identifying ladies who have been making waves fighting for equality across all intersections of identity, whether it be race, gender, sexuality, ability, you name it. From the powerhouses to the up-and-comers, some of these gals may be familiar to you and some may be a fresh new face you need to remember. Without further ado, here’s our shortlist!
Clementine Ford is a name you may already recognise. Bestselling author of ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ and ‘Fight Like a Girl,’ she is also public speaker and commentator and one of the most significant voices in the push for gender equality in Australia. She discusses topics around institutionalised misogyny in a Western country such as ours, shedding a light on the pay gap and rape culture as well as men’s issues like toxic masculinity and what it means to be a man.
Her Twitter account is full of funny, relatable anecdotes as well as her take on current world events and fantastic gender rhetoric. Ford is a trailblazer for women and women’s issues in Australia, and she is as witty and insightful as she is passionate and angry. Her rage and her fight can be divisive. She starts conversations a lot of us are too afraid to have, and not everyone always agrees with what she has to say. But that’s the job of any activist – to give a voice, to spark the fire, to pave the way for change.
Tune in to her Twitter for hilarious takes on just being a lady as well as fantastic, educated insights that will make you sound like a liberal arts genius at your next dinner party.
Aretha Brown is just 19 but she’s already an absolute icon, advocating for LGBTIQA+ and Indigenous rights in Australia. Identifying as a queer Aboriginal woman, she is the youngest person and only woman to be elected Prime Minister of the National Indigenous Youth Parliament. She first became known to the wider Australian public when at just 16, she gave a powerful speech in front of thousands of protestors at a 2017 Invasion Day rally in Melbourne, and these days fights for equality through public speaking, community organising and through her incredible artistic practise, all while balancing university!
Her Instagram feed is rife with her gorgeous artwork, calls to action, and factoids and infographics about Indigenous history and culture in 2020 Australia. She encourages other activists to not rely solely on social media to communicate their message. In an interview for Whimn, Brown pressed for “practical change where people are actually having discussions.”
Moana Hope is a total badass – she’s a football superstar, LGBTIQA+ activist, disability advocate and… she was on Survivor, twice. That’s quite the resume!
Born into a family of 14 children, she was representing Australia by the age of 16 and has continued to fight for change on and off the field. She spoke out against the incredible low pay received by female football players as compared to men, and also on the culture of homophobia directed towards her and centred around Australian sports. Hope collaborated with an ANZ initiative to raise support and awareness for the LGBIQA+ community, and is also a National Carers Australia ambassador as a full-time carer to her younger sister, Vinny, who was born with the neurological disorder Möbius syndrome. Even her appearances on Survivor were defined by collaboration and teamwork, and she was a fan favourite.
Hope and her wife, Swiss model Isabella Carlstrom, are a total power couple. They and Vinny make up the most gorgeous family to ever bless your Instagram feed. Hope shares tidbits about her life, speaks out against discrimination and stands up for equal rights. Chuck her a follow!
Dr. Nikki Stamp FRACS is a heart and lung surgeon, presenter, PhD superstar and author. She is an outspoken advocate for gender equality for surgeons, as well as women’s heart disease and healthy lifestyles, appearing as a health expert for a number of websites, print media, radio and television, and is an incredibly sought-after speaker. She was named one of Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year in 2017 and TimeOut Sydney’s 40 under 40. Not only that, but she also contributes regularly to publications such as Huffington Post and The Washington Post detailing her experiences as one of the only eleven female cardiothoracic surgeons in Australia, and discussing her achievements in a traditionally male-dominated domain. She is a strong advocate for the importance of self-care and work-life balance, and has written two highly-acclaimed books.
Her Instagram feed is chock-a-block full of smart, easy health tips, mood boosting hacks and myth debunking. She’s spoken out and been highly critical of “social media darlings” and societal obsession with appearances and #fitspo, and we can’t agree more! Dr. Stamp’s Instagram feed is far more healthy, useful, inspiring and informative. We can’t wait to see all future moves this rockstar doctor makes!
Charlotte Allingham is an artist whose work will leave your jaw on the floor. Seriously, this girl’s talent is the kind that leaves you gobsmacked. A Wiradjuri, Ngiyampaa queer woman from NSW, her work is centred around her cultural identity and the long-reaching impact of colonization in Australia, as well as “community love, body positivity, Black strength and power… modern subcultures, occultism, and the First Nation’s futurism.” Um, sign us up!
Her illustrations have been made into merchandise, tattoos and viral Instagram content, and she’s even created her own zines and comics. Because if she wasn’t talented enough already, she’s also an extraordinary writer. She had several pieces exhibited at the Biennale of Sydney, which is basically the Oscars of the art world, and has been the featured guest artist for famous publications like Overland and several other showcases. She uses Instagram to publish her stunning artwork and advocate for race equality and Indigenous rights in Australia. Her pieces are beautiful, celebratory, angry, heartbreaking, and all will make you want to get out there and make a difference.
AJ Clementine is an LGBTQIA+ activist, content creator and advocate with major followings on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. Transitioning from male to female at the age of 18, she is an outspoken activist for trans and queer equality, creating content around her transition journey, surgeries, discrimination as well as stellar, more light-hearted content such as makeup and fashion tutorials. A champion of diversity, she is a key voice for Australian trans visibility and media representation, she is a role model for young people everywhere, no matter how they identify – her audience subscribes for her viral content, and stays for her positive message and queer expression. Her videos are enlightening, positive and usually super funny. She’ll brighten your day, teach you about LGBTIQA+ discrimination, and get you on the path to perfecting that winged eyeliner look.
Dr. Susan Carland is an insanely accomplished, inspiring Renaissance Woman – a prominent media personality, academic, author, mother of two and 2004 Australian Muslim of the Year, she’s an utter trailblazer for women and women of the Islamic faith.
Converting from Christianity to Islam at the age of 19 sparked initially by an intellectual curiosity, she tells Islam, My Choice, “When I read about Islam itself, I realised it was actually very different to what I thought… It was actually very peaceful, very egalitarian, with strong emphasis on equal treatment of women, and a strong stance on social justice. I thought it was a very intellectual religion, yet it was also very spiritual, and that also appealed to me as well.”
She’s also spoken out about her desire to wear her hijab, and it’s alignment with her own worship and spirituality as well as her feminism – speaking to Meshel Laurie’s Nitty Gritty Committee, Dr. Carland explains, “there are some women who say [wearing the hijab] is a feminist statement… in a society where women’s bodies are used to sell everything from toothpaste to cars, [for those women] covering [their] body is about…saying ‘I’ll decide who sees my body and what parts they get to see by wearing a hijab and covering my body I’m choosing to not have my body commodified in that way.’”
She’s a sociologist and lecturer as Monash University, and completed her PhD which was published as a book in 2017, entitled ‘Fighting Hislam,’ on gender, sexism, activism, and the experiences of Muslim women. Spreading her activism equally on both Twitter and Instagram, follow Dr. Carland is bound to get you feeling inspired to change the world.
You may recognise Brooke Blurton from her stint on The Bachelor Australia, or maybe for some of her traditional Instagram fitspo bikini content… but Blurton is in fact a dedicated activist for equality in Indigenous, LGBTIQA+ and mental health spaces. A proud Yamatji Noongar woman, Blurton has used the exposure she had on reality TV as a platform to teach the wider community about her culture, history and discrimination Indigenous Australians face. Talk about using your power for good!
She had a difficult upbringing defined by grief and loss, was moved around between different foster homes and was exposed to drug and alcohol violence – but she uses her past to speak out on resilience, inner strength and embracing your identity. She works as a youth social worker, has been a TEDx speaker, an R U OK? Day ambassador, and uses Instagram to speak out on spreading kindness, cultural appreciation, Indigenous issues, mental health awareness, bisexual pride and healthy living – plus, the occasional guilty pleasure bikini snap. This is still Instagram after all!
Carly Findlay is a disability and appearance activist, award-winning journalist, TV presenter, keynote speaker and published author. Her ongoing fight for equality has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia, an exclusive list that this year recognised 837 ‘outstanding and inspirational Australians.’ Findlay was born with rare genetic skin condition called ichthyosis form erythroderma, and has spoken publicly about how ignorant attitudes towards appearance and disability made her a target of discrimination and bullying. I’m disabled by society’s barriers that they put up, by the low expectations of me…it’s society that’s disabling,” she said to SBS.
Dedicated to fighting traditional beauty norms and dismantling the view of disability as a weakness, Findlay has also pushed for more quotas and affirmative actions for people with disabilities. She’s a powerful voice across the Australian community. Her memoir ‘Say Hello,’ and anthology ‘Growing Up Disabled in Australia’ have both been publicly lauded, and she was also shortlisted for the 2019 Horne Prize. Her influence can be felt around the country and her work and advocacy paving the way for necessary change in Australian society. Active on both Twitter and Instagram, she shares current affairs, disability awareness, healthy living advice and the occasional silly pic – her content is bound to bring a smile to your face.
Tilly Lawless is a Sydney-based queer sex worker and activist who uses her substantial social media platform to teach the wider community about the frequent stigma and discrimination against sex workers. Sharing her writing, photographs, favourite academia, personal insights and anecdotes about queer relationships, she’s written for several publications and been a speaker at TEDx Sydney.
Well-versed in the rhetoric of intersectional feminism, Lawless frequently acknowledges her privilege as a white woman but maintains outspoken advocacy for women of all identities, and speaks most often on “drug decriminalisation, the whorearchy, emotional monogamy & the intersection & interplay of queerness with sex work.” She’s a poster-child for 2020 Feminism and you may be surprised by what you can learn from the revolutionary rhetoric she shares. Her Instagram account is private, due to her sharing sometimes some NSFW – but tasteful! – photographs.
There are so many more incredible female Australian activists fighting every day for intersectional equality, finding new and inventive ways to use their platform to reach and teach. These ladies are just a start. And they should bring some positivity and inspiration to your newsfeed… and maybe spark you to join the fight for equality yourself!
Read about freedom of speech in Australia compared with China, India, and the rest of Asia here.