The role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women play in communities at a local, state and national level is being celebrated this year during NAIDOC week. Featuring the theme ‘Because of Her, We Can’, the national week of reflection and pride for aboriginal people is held from Sunday 8 July through to Sunday 15 July.

The theme is all about honouring leaders, activists, mothers, elders and politicians who are creating justice, equal rights, access to education, employment, arts, culture and history across the nation as fierce, individual women. These positive role models inspire and encourage other young aboriginal women to become doctors, lawyers, Olympians, artists, songwriters, musicians, journalists, architects, accountants, academics and much more. These women form the backbone of our nation, country and home.

Aboriginal women have carried the dream time stories, cultural traditions, songs and languages with them for an impressive feat of at least 65,000 years. They were present when the first fleet arrived. They fought for their right to fight. They ensured that women got to have a say in the political and cultural problems that have shaken this country. Marching, protesting and speaking at the same time as maintaining families, Aboriginal women have broken down gender stereotypes and institutionalised barriers.

They were pioneering women like Barangaroo, Truganini, Gladys Elphick, Fannie Cochrane-Smith, Evelyn Scott, Pearl Gibbs, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Celuia Mapo Salee, Thancoupie, Justine Saunders, Gladys Nicholls, Flo Kennedy, Essie Coffey, Isabel Coe, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Eleanor Harding, Mum Shirl, Ellie Gaffney and Gladys Tybingoompa.

Today, they are trailblazers like Joyce ClagueYalmay Yunupingu, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Nova Peris, Carol Martin, Elizabeth Morgan, Barbara Shaw, Rose Richards, Vonda Malone, Margaret Valadian, Lowitja O’Donoghue, June Oscar, Pat O’Shane, Pat Anderson Jill Milroy, Banduk Marika, Marcia Langton, Linda Burney and Rosalie Kunoth-Monks – to name but a few.

As women continue to storm the world,  this years NAIDOC week encourages all women everywhere to honour, reflect and be inspired by the Aboriginal women shaping the world.

Readers also enjoyed our story Torres Mayor