Marlee launched the Instagram platform Tiddas 4 Tiddas ('tidda' is an Aboriginal word for sister) in November of 2018 with her sister, Keely. As proud Kamilaroi women, they aim to empower young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women by sharing their stories and celebrating the success of black women in their career. Her following on social media has inspired and educated many and we’re so excited to have had the opportunity to speak to her for International Women’s Day earlier this year.
What does this years theme, #ChooseToChallenge mean to you?
While I have been thinking about this theme, although I am choosing to challenge myself to continue to work harder and reach higher goals - and encourage all women to do the same, to counter the status quo and strive for a more equal future - my main challenge actually goes to men! With all that's happened across Australian media - and even on a global level - over the last few weeks, it feels wrong that the onus for building a brighter, safer future for women, should lie on us, so while the vast majority of men are decent and don’t participate in this toxic behaviour and it’s not men in general who are the ‘problem’, I challenge all men to do better in speaking out against sexism, misogyny and the acceptance of rape culture. Men hold the power to make the change we need to see, so I challenge them!
From challenge comes change, what’s a recent challenge you faced that you saw change come from it?
First and foremost, I don't listen to those limits and labels. It's hard to do that I know, but I've worked for a long time to accept that the only person whose thoughts about you matter, is yourself. You're the master of your own limits and capabilities. Despite this attitude, I definitely still have moments of self doubt so I'm constantly challenging myself and making changes within myself to strive for more and achieve the maximum.
Do you have any advice on ways someone can challenge effectively?
The best way to challenge someone, is to walk the walk. People aren't often willing to listen when their egos are in the way, so by taking the steps to create the change you want to see and through your own individual success, you can challenge their perceptions.
IWD also focuses on the importance of celebrating women’s achievements. What are some of the women, past and present that you admire and are inspired by?
I am very lucky to have been raised with the stories of incredible women in my family, particularly those of my grandmother and great-grandmother who both overcame unimaginable discrimination and obstacles because of their Aboriginality, to succeed and breakdown barriers for myself and my siblings and cousins. They inspire me every day.
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
'She is your sister, not your competition' is a quote I find myself repeating over and over again, especially when I have the privilege of speaking with young girls at schools. We are much stronger when we stand together and it is the single most pressing obstacle between where we are now as women and where we want to be - we must lift each other up and celebrate each other's successes!
What is the most important message you want to send today and everyday?
IWD is not the only day to be speaking about these issues - we must choose to challenge all 365 days of the year!
Follow @boody for more inspiration this long weekend.