Senator Mehreen Faruqi - Changemaker

Mehreen Faruqi has more identity titles than most! She’s a Muslim, a migrant, a mother, a feminist, an engineer, an academic and a Greens Senator. She also has a number of ‘firsts’ to her name. Most notably, the first Muslim woman to sit in an Australian parliament (NSW 2013) and later the first Muslim elected to the Australian Senate (2018). She is a passionate advocate for the environment, climate justice and women’s rights, and a staunch anti-racism campaigner. In fact, there is little about contemporary Australia that Mehreen doesn’t have a stake in, and a view about. Her book Too Migrant, Too Muslim, Too Loud is a sweeping romp through her life and the issues that keep her awake at night. 

A wonderful conversationalist, Mehreen is one of those rare women who didn’t ‘become’ a changemaker, she just seems born that way. She is an inveterate ‘fixer’ who cannot walk past a problem of inequity without trying to solve it. 

Her choice to leave Pakistan to seek a better life in Australia for her young family didn’t initially go to plan when she encountered unexpected and at times shocking levels of racism. That and her observations of Aussie complacency around the issues that she cared deeply about, such as the environment, women and the treatment of migrants are what politicised her. Her career path has been tough and the backlash has at times been painful. But in true changemaker style, Mehreen’s life mantra is “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. 

Mehreen’s story is the second in our ‘Changemaker’ series, in which we highlight the extraordinary efforts of some stunning, audacious and gutsy Australian women. As guest curator of a new exhibition, ‘Australian Women Changemakers’, which opened at the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) in June 2022, BroadTalk host Virginia Haussegger has spent hundreds of hours pouring over feminist activism and advocacy, chasing that holy grail of insight about ‘what makes a changemaker?’. In the series we explore the courage, motivations and importantly the cost of being a changemaker.

BroadTalk is produced by Martyn Pearce for BroadTalk Media.

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