• Margot Fink, Maggie Collins, Nakkiah Lui, Becky Lucas, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, and Nina Las Vegas are all women who aren't afraid to speak out against sexism. (Twitter)
The US has Lena Dunham and Tavi Gevinson, the UK has Emma Watson, but who are Australia's up and coming feminist icons? Meet the young women from very different walks of life who believe there is work to be done to bring about gender equality.
By
Lucinda Kent

8 Mar 2016 - 11:54 AM  UPDATED 8 Mar 2016 - 12:26 PM

When you are asked to name an Australian feminist, a few prominent names come to mind.

Clementine Ford, Rosie Waterland, and of course second wave icon Germaine Greer.

But who are the next generation of young women making an impact on Australia's gender equality?

Meet the talented, innovative, funny, daring feminists, many of whom are under 25, you will be seeing more of in 2016 and beyond.

Becky Lucas – Comedian

Despite some major Australian female comedy stars breaking out on the big screen and on television, like Rebel Wilson and Hannah Gadsby, the local stand-up scene remains somewhat of a boys club.

Becky Lucas is changing all that, as a regular guest on triple j who has opened for Wil Anderson and debuted her first solo show Hightide to sell-out audiences in 2015.

The Brisbane native, who now lives in Sydney, talks openly and honestly about life as a 20-something woman, and regularly calls out sexism in the comedy community.

Gen George- Tech start-up founder

For most young Australians, backpacking in Europe is a chance to get away from responsibility and kick up their heels before going into the workforce.

For Gen George, it was where she came up with the idea for her multi-million-dollar start up, OneShift, a tech company designed to match casual workers with employers.

In 2015, at the tender age of 24 she was named by Startup Daily as the top emerging leader in Australian business.

George is a fierce supporter of women, and encourages other women in business to back each other, rather than shoot each other down.  

She is one of the founders of women's entrepreneur community Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine, where with a tongue planted firmly in her cheek, she encourages other #girlbosses to #backabitchup and support other young Australian women.

Tahmina Ansari - Journalist

Tahmina Ansari came to Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan as a young child, and has gone on to be the first woman in a hijab to appear as a television reporter on ABC News.

Ansari says she has encountered both sexism and Islamaphobia, and the biggest issues affecting Australian women is still a lack of equality in the workplace.

"Particularly for Muslim women, they're encountering racism and discrimination," she said.

"There's an ongoing issue of domestic violence and lack of funding."

Ansari worked as a reporter for ABC News until she moved to become an editorial associate at Twitter's new Australia project, Moments.

Nakkiah Lui – Indigenous activist and actor

For writer and actress Nakkiah Lui, race is deeply linked to her feminist values.

Her sharp, poignant views on how Australians view Indigenous women is a key part of her ABC television show, Black Comedy.

"The issues I've had to face aren't just as a girl, or when I was a bigger girl, but as an Aboriginal woman," she said.

"From the way people look at you on the street, to the way you're perceived in the arts community, it's never just for your achievements, it's always for your achievements 'as an Aboriginal."

"There's still so many labels, and people don't realise how much they really follow you."

Lui is a contributor to NITV and alongside Black Comedy has a number of writing and acting projects in 2016.

Margot Fink – LBTI Advocate

Transgender woman Margot Fink has achieved a lot for her mere 21 years of age, including developing support campaigns for trans youth, being a Victorian finalist for Young Australian of the Year 2016, and working for LGBTI organisation Minus18.

Fink, whose background is Malaysian and Romanian, struggled growing up with influences from both the Jewish and Catholic faiths, and says she wants to work towards an Australia where young people don't have to go through the same gender struggles she did.

The All of Us program she developed with the Safe Schools coalition is aimed at helping teachers understand, communicate with and support LGBTI students.

Nina Las Vegas – DJ

Former triple j host, producer and DJ Nina Las Vegas moved from Wagga Wagga to Sydney at the tender age of 18 to pursue her dream career in radio.

She has been behind a number of viral Facebook posts criticising sexism in the music industry, especially the way female DJs are taken less seriously than their male peers.

In 2014 she left triple j and launched her own record label, NVL Records in 2015.

Nina Las Vegas, born Nina Agzarian to an Armenian-Egyptian father and Australian mother, also co-founded non profit organisation Heaps Decent, aimed at offering music programs for underprivileged and Indigenous young people at schools and juvenile justice centres.

Jeannette Francis –SBS Journalist

As the only SBS journalist to have worked across all news and current affairs departments, current host of The Feed Jeannette Francis has experience in telling multicultural stories from Living Black, to Insight, and Dateline.

Francis cites Amy Schumer as her feminist role model, and says pay disparity and domestic violence are the most urgent issues facing Australian women.

Her advice to younger women?

"Penises are overrated."

Dr Bree Blakeman – Anthropologist

Anthropologist Dr Bree Blakeman's study of the culture and values in Indigenous communities has informed her feminist values, and she says she wants Australian feminism to expand its focus outside of capital cities.

"Any further exclusionary narrowing of Australian feminism, which is already very much dominated by white, largely middle-class, cisgender, heterosexual women, would be of great concern and a retrograde step for feminism in Australia," she said.

"While this exclusionary narrowing is surely partly the result of the media and their focus on individual voices who are, with few exceptions, white, middle-class, cis-hetero women, it is also a true reflection of the state of mainstream feminism in Australia today - which is far, far, far from intersectional.

"Intersectionality is challenging and messy, but it is essential if we want to move forward with a truly inclusive feminist movement here in Australia."

She says listening to others is key to moving forward, and feminist writers need to share the spotlight.

"I hope that those Australian feminists with a platform learn to pass the mic and listen rather than talking or writing ‘on behalf of’ others whose position or experience they do not share," she said.

"If you’re able-bodied then don’t write on behalf of people with disabilities, if you’re not Indigenous then don’t write or talk on behalf of Indigenous women."

Yassmin Abdel-Magied - Engineer and activist

As an engineer who just so happens to be a young Muslim woman who was born in Sudan, Yassmin Abdel-Magied has faced a lot of discrimination.

But she turned her journey through the white-male-dominated industry of mechanical engineering into one of inspiration for other young people, publishing a memoir Yassmin's Story: Who do you think I am?, which aims to dispel myths about Australian Muslims.

Abdel-Magied, who was awarded Young Queenslander of The Year in 2015, founded Youth Without Borders, an organisation dedicated to programs for young people in diverse communities.

Her story cuts through the clutter of growing up Muslim in Australia
Muslim. Engineer. V8 enthusiast. Queensland Young Australian of the Year. These describe 24-year-old Yassmin Abdel-Magied, but don’t define her as a person. A Sudanese-born, Australian-raised woman, Yassmin is challenging stereotypes with her memoir.

Maggie Collins - Artist manager, music festival programmer

Music fans may be surprised that the manager behind one of the loudest rock bands in Australia, DZ Deathrays, is a woman with a fondness for puppies.

Maggie Collins, whose voice known by many Australians thanks to appearances as a presenter on triple j, manages some of the most popular acts in the male-dominated independent music industry, including the John Steele Singers and The Creases.

She is now the event programmer for BIGSOUND, Australia's largest music conference, and has a keen interest in women in music and promoting the development of more women in the management side of the industry.