Meet a Member – Caitlin Figueiredo

19 April 2017

Eliza Hughes

Eliza is the Communications and Marketing Officer at YWCA Canberra

This article is part of our member profile series. Our members tell us that one of the things they love about being part of our community is getting to know like-minded women. So, each month, we’ll feature an interview with a member, so you can get to know each other a little better. Today, meet Caitlin Figueiredo.

You in a nutshell?

Firstly, it’s pronounced ‘Fig-AR-EY-do’.

Okay, now we’ve got that out of the way…Hi I’m Caitlin. Nice to meet you. 🙂

I’m a 21-year-old, first generation Ango-Indian-Australian and proud born and bred Canberran. Sorry about the mouthful.

I’m currently studying Law and Development Studies at ANU. I also wear many hats – I’m an activist, ambassador, consultant, business coordinator, board director, entrepreneur, woman – Disney lover and Netflix addict.

Every day I get an opportunity to work on the national and international stage ensuring that women and girls are respected and have an opportunity to shine. When I’m not at uni, you’ll find me overseas at the United Nations, in Melbourne with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, or locked up in my bedroom consulting with Google or eBay. This is all while also balancing my NGO in Pakistan, running a small education business with 43 staff and 400 students and helping young women start up their own initiatives.

Why? Because I am WOMAN… and women KICK BUTT at multitasking!!!

What’s on your playlist?

  • First Lady’s Day of the Girl Child Playlist (70% of her favourites were on my iTunes list – back in the day when iTunes was a thing. So, does that mean we’re best friends? Yes. Yes it does)
  • James Blunt (My first 3 concerts were James. I’m obsessed. In a good way.)
  • Adele (When you just need to cry it out. And as activists, that’s every second day…*kidding*)
  • Ed Sheeran (His new album! The best! Digging the Irish vibes. I have Irish blood, so I’m not afraid to admit I randomly start jigging when I hear Nancy Mulligan.)
  • Songs to Sing to in the Shower (I sing to them outside of the shower. Guilty.)
  • The Franklin Electric and Coldplay (They’re very similar)
  • P!NK, Andra Day, BEYONCE, Ingrid Michaelson, Alicia Keys (Girl power!!!)
  • Podcasts (Lewis Howes. Enough said)

People would be surprised if they knew…

I’m a Pinterest fanatic and addicted to Ghirardelli’s -it’s the best chocolate ever.

What are you reading at the moment?

I just ordered 21 books (Yes, I did say 21. Be free to make your own mind up about my sanity). But I just finished the BEST BOOK in history – How to be a BAWSE by Lilly Singh, aka iiSuperwomanii. I’ve dubbed it the millennial manifesto. Every young feminist needs to get their hands on this book! It made me laugh, reassess my life and bawl my eyes out. Lilly Singh is my spirit animal, and she did not disappoint. Have I sold you yet?

Oh, and I recently contributed to a book – Letters of Love by the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. I’ll wait while you go and order your copy. 100% of the proceeds supports the foundation’s work to end violence against children.

What was your highlight of the past year?

Waking up to an email from the White House (WHAT?), inviting me to meet Michelle Obama (Double WHAT?!) and attending the United State of Women Summit (Triple WHAT?!?) – that doesn’t happen to a girl like me!

The day after my final exams, I hopped on a plane to Washington D.C to meet Mrs Obama. I visited the White House, gushed over my idol and we talked about my work, our dreams for gender equality and how I wanted to become Prime Minister. I also said she needed to run for President in 2020. She brushed it off, but I think she’ll change her mind.

The United State of Women Summit was incredible! I met Patricia Arquette (we’re Twitter buddies now), listened to Oprah talk about the cuteness of President Obama’s butt and joined thousands of powerful American women in a unity of change.

That trip changed everything for me. Over the next couple of months, a senior aid from The White House invited me to consult on a number of gender policies and to be on a conference call with President Obama, the same day I received my 100 Women Of Interest Young Leader award. Okay, that’s my second highlight.

The White House opened my mind to a new possibility. For the first time, I saw that it’s possible for governments to work intergenerationally and with different people from around the globe.

I believe we can enact change, especially when governments consult with their target audience and have provisions in place to ensure they have enough people in leadership that reflect the cultures and genders they represent. If they don’t (this goes for any organisation…or country, Australia I’m looking at you) you’ll end up with a horrific Pepsi ad. You’ve been warned.

Take home…consult and include! Oh, and the Obama Administration was awesome!!

Who is your feminist hero?

I have a few…because how can you just have one feminist hero? You can’t. It’s impossible.

  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Lilly Singh
  • Alaa Murabit (If you don’t know this legend, you really should!)
  • Maya Angelou
  • Michelle Obama
  • Tara Moss
  • Hillary Clinton (*heart breaks* It should have been her!!)

What’s an achievement you’re proud of?

Last year, our team brought our student’s art exhibition from Pakistan to Australia. Our aim was to highlight our student’s amazing stories and messages of peace. We also wanted to start a dialogue around human rights and biased perceptions.

We feel we can change the world through art. And use the universal language to foster peace and harmony.

We partnered with PwC to launch the Arts for Peace project and to raise money for our school back in Peshawar. The exhibition has now travelled to 3 states and started up hundreds of positive conversations. Our students range from 6 to 35 years old, and represent all different genders and religions including Catholic, Sikh, Muslim and Hindu.

It’s beautiful to see intercultural harmony working, and that peace is possible! Now our six year olds call themselves international artists – that’s pretty amazing.

This exhibition has helped transform their confidence exponentially. I’m really proud we could do this for them and this year, we’re expanding our peace project to Colombia and Ethiopia. I can’t wait!

Why did you join the Y?

95% of my work is overseas, so it’s pretty isolating sometimes. I joined YWCA Canberra after having a few conversations with (YWCA Canberra Executive Director) Frances Crimmins and Hannah Wandel about the incredible work YWCA Canberra does for our community and the importance of the movement. I wanted to make a few friends, surround myself with passionate, empowering, driven women…and the Y fit my brief.

Who inspires you?

All women, LGBTQIA, POC and men who stand up for equality and inclusivity, fight for their rights and find the courage to speak their truth. Basically, anyone who does any good in the world, albeit big or small – they’re an inspiration in my book.

What’s the change you want to see in the world?

I want to see an inclusive community that cares and respects every individual’s human rights. Simple enough?

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