The past 12 months have placed a long-overdue focus on issues of gender inequality and sexual harassment and assault. The #metoo and Time’s Up campaigns, spurred on by the ousting of Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein, have driven a global wave of public outcry and demands for action. Dr Emma Fulu has worked tirelessly in this space, dedicating her career to investigating the issue of violence against women. She founded The Equality Institute in 2015, a specialist organisation that centres on “trying to stop the violence before it starts”, and in 2016 she was awarded the Women of Style InStyle & Audi Style Scholarship—a $10,000 grant to help support her essential initiatives.
“So much has happened in the two years since then,” says Fulu. “We recently registered a sister charity organisation called The Equality Hub, [which] aims to promote a vibrant and inclusive feminist movement in Australia.” The charity will support women and girls— particularly those from marginalised communities—and foster their leadership potential.
The next phase for The Equality Institute is an expansion into the United States. “We are setting up an arm in New York City, which will focus on addressing violence against women in conflict settings, and an arm in Los Angeles, to help respond to the issue of sexual harassment in the corporate sector,” says Fulu (the latter, a direct response to the #metoo movement).
Fulu says her scholarship helped bring to light a “silent epidemic” that has for too long been kept in the dark. “To be acknowledged among so many other brilliant, inspirational women was powerful. To me it said this is an issue we all need to pay attention to. And together we can prevent it.”
Words of wisdom... “Have the courage to stand in your truth. Because to be fully yourself—as a woman in our society—is a political act. So stand in your power but with both humility and kindness.”
On female leadership... “Women’s contributions to the world in all areas of life have been largely invisible. One of the many tragedies of this imbalance is that girls grow up with the inherent message that their choices and options are limited. This is true for women in general but particularly for indigenous women, women of colour, women with disabilities and many others. Therefore it is incredibly important for the empowerment of girls that we visibly celebrate women.”