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Follow the Leader

with Randa Abdel-Fattah, Aja Barber and Angela Tiatia, moderated by Sisonke Msimang

10 March 2024

In the Yallamundi Rooms

Sydney Opera House Presents

Talks and Ideas

There’s no doubting the need to allow girls and women to be leaders. But rarely does mainstream feminism emphasise the need to learn how to follow. Join these dynamic activists, writers and speakers of colour and learn about an agenda that might feel very different from your own.

Co-curated by Clementine Ford 

I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.

Audre Lorde, The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism, 1981

you don’t need to lead to succeed

There doesn’t seem to be any reluctance to adopt all the fun things from other cultures - yoga, hairstyles, food, fashion, music (the list is endless). But what about the stuff that is a little more difficult? That might make you uncomfortable? The issues women of colour in particular have been trying to get us all to hear, absorb, and act on. The political struggles they’re engaged in. The threat that climate change poses to their very existence. The way our choices impact the labour conditions they face. And so much more. 

A timely discussion about the need for white feminists to decentre themselves to embrace supporting roles rather than equating empowerment with the ability always to lead. 

Sydney Opera House Presents


Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah (she/her)

Dr Randa Abdel-Fattah is a Future Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Her research areas cover Palestine, Islamophobia, race, the war on terror, youth identities and social movement activism. Dr Abdel-Fattah is also one of Australia's most prominent Palestine advocates, a former litigation lawyer and the multi-award-winning author of 12 books published in over 20 countries and translated into over 15 languages. She has been awarded and shortlisted for all of Australia's major literary prizes.  

Aja Barber (she/her)

Aja Barber is a writer, stylist and consultant focusing on the intersections of sustainability, fashion, and the textile industry. Her work explores the traditions of privilege, wealth inequality, racism, feminism, colonialism, and how these systems of power affect our buying habits.

Consumed (September 2021) is her debut book, a treatise on the state of fashion, climate change, and social justice. The book reveals the endemic injustices in our consumer industries, the uncomfortable history of the textile industry, and how these oppressive systems help create a lack of diversity and equality in the fashion industry.

Independent booksellers across the UK and Ireland voted to include Consumed on the Non-Fiction shortlist for the Indie Book Awards 2023.

Angela Tiatia (she/her)

Sāmoan and Australian, Angela Tiatia lives and works in Sydney. 

Tiatia explores contemporary culture through performance, moving image, painting, sculpture and photography, drawing out the relationships between representation, gender, neo-colonialism and the commodification of body and place. Often through the lenses of history, popular and material culture, the artist moves deftly in her compositions of still and moving image from pointed detail to satellite view addressing themes within power structures and how these impact the individual and their communities. 

Tiatia has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, and her work is held in numerous national and international public collections.

Sisonke Msimang (she/her) Moderator

Sisonke Msimang is the author of two books and the columnist behind Ms Understanding, which tackles race and racism in The Guardian on a bi-weekly basis. She’s also a long-term collaborator with the Centre for Stories where she heads up storytelling and offers a bespoke training and coaching service for leaders interested in improving their storytelling skills.

Other information

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