FROM academic to politician – Cowan MHR Anne Aly has found her place.
The mother-of-two has worn many hats, including counter terrorism professor, and while politics was something she had not considered, it is a role in which she is thriving – and takes extremely seriously.
“I never wanted to be in politics but after more than a decade as an academic and researcher and practitioner in counter terrorism I found that I was getting frustrated with the lack of action and political will,” she said.
“I was travelling the world and enjoying an international reputation as one of the world’s leading academics on the subject.
“I was an expert adviser to the United Nations but I just kept coming home and thinking that Australia was not changing and more needed to be done.
“So when the opportunity to run for the seat of Cowan came up I thought long and hard about leaving behind the career I had built up and decided that I should take the opportunity to make change; to be the change I wanted to see.”
The Madeley resident will this year spend International Women’s Day (IWD) giving talks about what it means to recognise the struggles women around the world continue to face.
“We have achieved a lot for women in this country but we can’t celebrate our wins until every woman is also able to celebrate with us,” she said.
“It’s important to recognise that women and girls around the world are the most vulnerable and are often disproportionately impacted by global issues like conflict, famine and oppression.
“We have come a long way since women in Australia first got to vote but that doesn’t mean we stop championing the cause for women and girls around the world to ensure that they have access to education, economic freedom and are not used as political tools of oppression.”
Dr Aly’s book Finding my Place (released on March 19) is an honest and raw account of her life of which she said she was reluctant and nervous to share.
“Well it wasn’t really my idea,” she said.
“I got a call from a publisher to write a book and I said ‘sure I’ll write a book on terrorism’ and they said ‘oh no Anne, we want you to write a book about you’.
“I resisted at first I don’t write about me, I’m a technical writer, not a writer of stories.
“Anyway I agreed to do it and was very nervous.
“It’s honest and it’s raw and it’s like saying to people ‘here I am, this is me’.
“We already get judged as public figures on everything from the what we say to how we look to what we wear and so I’ve laid my life out in this book- it’s not political- it’s just the story of me and it’s like I’m giving everyone something else to judge me on.”
And while being judged comes with the territory of politics, it’s still a field she hoped more women would become involved in.
“Women bring a different voice and a different perspective to issues – a perspective that I think needs to be valued for the contributions it can make to how we develop policy and how we understand the impact of what we do on society,” she said.
She had this advice for women looking to get into politics.
“Find a good mentor – it is invaluable to have someone who will shine a light for you and help you navigate the wilderness,” she said.
“Get inspired, be inspired.
“We need you, we need your voices.”
Anne Aly’s book Finding my Place is out March 19.