Today’s blog post uncovers one of our Shout Out speaker – Habiba Asim. She has been a speaker for about a year however she has been working with YACWA for three years. Growing up, as a Pakistani Muslim is something she takes pride on. She is a leader; aspiring to create impact and become part of the change she wants to see in the world.
I have had the utmost privilege to speak to her about her experiences as a Shout Out speaker and her journey in life so far.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your background?
"I was born in Pakistan and I was raised in New Zealand. I’m the eldest in four children, which means I had a lot of responsibilities growing up. This also placed a lot of pressure on me in terms of choosing what career pathway I would go into. I studied high school in Australia, and I recently graduated with a Sports Science degree from the University of Notre Dame. I have been working with non-for-profits since I was 15 years old with my first employed role with Save the Children organisation. From then, I have had various positions and opportunities to work with prevalent issues such as domestic violence, sexual and health equality. I actually just landed my first full time role as a residential youth worker, where I’ll end up working with young people from 10 to 17 years old, providing them continuous support."
What’s your experience as a Shout Out speaker like so far? What is your key learning?
"My experience has been absolutely awesome. I’ve met so many people and it has given me so much more opportunities. It’s been a great learning curve; I have been able to grow a lot as a person from it. As a speaker, I think we need to keep in mind that when we do go out and speak, these stories are lived experiences. Sometimes, that story is still ongoing so it can get a bit difficult to talk about certain matters. I definitely recommend this role. It is such a good way to get to know yourself, and help advocate to those in a similar space as you. It’s all about being that person you wish you had when you were younger."
What does being a Shout Out speaker mean to you?
"I think it means a lot of things. Every gig is always different. For the events when I talk to young people, I often elaborate and tell them about my journey as a Pakistani-born woman who was raised in New Zealand, and Australia. I talk about the obstacles and issues I have faced whilst growing up.
It means a lot to me that I am able to spread awareness through this platform.
Being a Shout Out speaker has given me the opportunity to let young people know about the huge discrepancies in terms of living conditions, especially between first world and third world countries. It constantly reminds me that we are so blessed to be where we are. I think it’s also important for me that I get to speak about certain issues such as health and resources equality. It is a topic I’m absolutely passionate about, it allows me to raise awareness and provide input on matters that are often difficult to speak about, like mental and sexual health. Specifically on mental health, it isn’t deemed as a ‘normal’ thing; actually people with mental health issues are regarded as ‘crazy’ in the community I come from. There is a huge lack of acknowledgement about mental health and this is something I want to change. Being a Shout Out speaker has also given me the chance to reflect on my family, my community, and myself. I’ve realised that it lets me be that person I wish I had when I was growing up."
What is the best advice you can give to someone who is going through a similar situation to yourself?
"Whatever you're going through, fight the good fight now otherwise you’ll be fighting it for the rest of your life."
It was such a pleasure speaking to Habiba. She is rich in knowledge and wisdom, and without a doubt, will become a great influencer in the near future. To book her (and others) as a speaker, please check out https://www.yacwa.org.au/youth-leadership/shout-out/