2022 She Leads High series: five quick questions with Avan Daruwalla

28 February 2022

YWCA Canberra’s She Leads High Conference is back for another year!  

On Thursday 7 April, we’re inviting students in years 9 and 10 to explore what it’s like to be Dauntless!   

In anticipation of the event, we caught up with one of our She Leads High Conference panellists, Avan Daruwalla, to talk all things leadership, gender equality and her inspirations!  

Currently in her fourth year of studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics and Development Studies at ANU, Avan Daruwalla is the ANU Women’s Officer for 2021 and 2022, representing the interests of women and non-binary students to the ANU and ANU Student Association. She is an advocate for trauma-informed, survivor-centric Safe and Supported at Home (SASH) support resources and services, as well as primary prevention of gender-based violence. Last year Avan spoke at the Women’s March4Justice and organised the Broken Promises protest against institutional betrayal and broken promises at ANU.  

Describe yourself in 30 words or less. 

A 21-year-old Leo, ENFJ and Type 2 woman of colour, intersectional feminist and cheerful friend.  

Tell us about a moment in your life that kick-started your leadership journey.  

I think I have always wanted to be in charge of things and, as a really shy kid, at a certain point I realised I would need to be a bit more outgoing to have the leadership opportunities I wanted.  

What questions are you tired of hearing about gender equality or women in leadership? 

There are so many! So much of the discourse around gender equality and women in leadership comes from a foundation of liberal feminism that we need to challenge. I find questions around ‘my inspiration/role model’ or how we can ‘smash the glass ceiling’ or ‘involve men in conversations around gender equality’ to be pretty reductive and outdated. 

What personal challenge have you had to overcome for your leadership goals? 

I have always been a very non-confrontational person, so motivating myself to organise and get involved in protest movements has been a really difficult but incredibly worthwhile and valuable learning experience.  

Imagine yourself in your 40s. What leadership advice would your 40-year-old self give to you right now? 

I have a feeling that my 40-year-old self would tell me that, while it is important to be self-aware about my own lack of knowledge and experience, it’s also important to recognise that imposter syndrome is a tool of patriarchy and oppression that is used to disempower young women. I think she would tell me to be unafraid to speak up in spaces where I feel underqualified to do so. 

Want to hear more from Avan? If you’re a young woman or nonbinary person in years 9 or 10, ask your school to register you for the She Leads High Conference on Thursday 7 April. Visit the event page for more information. 

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