Dr Anne Aly, Federal MP for Cowan in Western Australia, presented a critical view of western feminism particularly in terms how it has isolated minority women.

The talk, held on Friday 24 March at the Australian National University in Canberra, was the keynote address on “how radical western feminism has been counterproductive for the rights of minority women” as part of the On Point initiative.

Dr Aly with the organisers of the On Point initiative. Photo: Jumanah Husna

Dr Aly was introduced by Louise Taylor who herself has first hand experience of minority women’s issues as the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Legal AID ACT, her own background as a Kamilaroi woman and as a member of the Law Council of Australia’s Indigenous Legal Issues Committee.

In the talk, Dr Aly pointed out that with regard to the feminist’s view of Muslim women, they have to get over the hijab or the veil and far from trying to “save” these women, they should be bringing them in and standing side by side with them.

Dr Aly spoke of her own experience on entering Federal Parliament of getting the looks of “you don’t belong here” but she has embraced the role of being “the disruptor, of the one that makes people go ‘huh, what’s she doing here’ or ‘she looks different’ and makes them reassess their own perceptions.”

She pointed out that “In the early 70’s when I was growing up . . . we primarily identified as Egyptians . . . being Muslim was what we did at home.”  As part of her research after 9/11 she saw young Muslim men “shed tears . . . they felt lost . . . their identity as Australians were pulled out from under them.”

On Point is a new initiative that will host a series of feminist events that explore issues and perspectives that have been traditionally sidelined by the mainstream feminist movement.

For more information or to be involved with On Point in Canberra please contact Renee Jones at [email protected].

The gold coin donations collected at the event for the Women’s Legal Centre ACT.

Dr Aly discusses issues informally after the talk. Photo: Jumanah Husna