Wiradjuri elder and activist Jenny Munro brought the crowd to a standstill. Speaking at the Women's March on Sydney over the weekend, Ms Munro brought some home truths to the international movement.
“I think all people who come to our country see very, very quickly see this place... It was paradise for us, today it’s paradise for a different set of people. We walk the other road, the road to hell, because of good intentions and misplaced policies and ideals about racism in this country,” she said.
Ms Munro was one of the headline speakers at the march on Saturday where thousands of protestors gathered at Hyde Park.
Event Organiser Ayebatonye Abrakasa said the event is for all members of the community who are marginalised and disenfranchised.
"We are fighting for gender equality in the workforce. We are fighting for people of colour, we are fighting for Indigenous Australians that are being hyper-incarcerated, for the people being locked in detention on Manus Island and Nauru,” she said.
The event occurred in solidarity with the Women’s March movement taking place in Washington, D.C and in cities around the world, raising their voices in defence of women’s rights and against hatred and bigotry.
The international movement followed the presidential election in the United States, where a group of women announced plans to march in Washington on the first full day of the Trump Administration.
But Women's March on Sydney co-founder Mindy Freidband says the movement is about much more than the election.
"We are here to say women are important, women deserve equality and we support women around the globe," Ms Freidband said.
Jenny Munro says the problems the United States are facing in relation to racism are close to home.
“That’s our big issue as human beings… our existence is our big issue, our survival every day,” she said.
“We’re here and we have a world to live in. We have to ensure that the world survives… What we have to do is what our people have done for millennia; maintain country, maintain nature and nature will look after you.”
Wearing a T-shirt honouring 22-year-old Aboriginal woman Ms Dhu, who died in police custody in Western Australia in 2014, Ms Munro made a plea to remember her life and many others.
“I stand as a grandmother for this country to never, ever to forget Elijah Doughty, Mr Ward, Lynette Daley. We have an endless list of victims here, we have massacre sites with thousands of bodies yet to even be found because the atrocities are being hidden so well, for so long,” she said.
Ms Munro is no stranger to advocating for Indigenous and women’s rights. She says her learning curve began at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972.
“I was around for a lot of the early feminist movement. But the difference with our people was that our law and culture actually does not differentiate between men or women, we are equal in our system and in our law,” she said.
She said Australia could learn from Australia’s Indigenous peoples and cultures in the practice of equality.
“We’ve been practicing in our systems since time immemorial. Women are bosses in our system, I’m the boss of country, I’m the boss of law, I’m the boss of all my nieces and nephews, my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren to come and my mother taught me how to be one hell of a boss woman," she said.
“If one woman suffers, we all suffer and believe in me my people and my women have suffered in our communities and our culture more than anyone on this planet could even contemplate let alone bear.”