Editor’s note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers who choose not to look at images of the deceased should not continue reading as such images are included in the following story.
Incredible, groundbreaking Indigenous Australian women are having their stories brought to the front, with the Twitter hashtag #BecauseOfHerWeCan.
Black rights activists, politicians, poets, nurses, barristers, artists, and the first Aboriginal person (male or female) to play test cricket for Australia, women living and passed are being acknowledged on the social network.
The phrase “Because of her, we can,” also serves as the theme of this year’s NAIDOC Week, running July 8-15, a celebration of indigenous culture steered by the National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee.
The committee formed with the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920s, seeking to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
This year’s festival, with events happening all over Australia, focuses on the particular power of women, especially those who have blazed a trail for others during times of discrimination, sexism, racism, and oppression.
“As pillars of our society, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played — and continue to play — active and significant roles at the community, local, state and national levels,” Shannan Dodson, Member of the National NAIDOC Committee, told Mashable.
“As leaders, trailblazers, politicians, activists and social change advocates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women fought and continue to fight, for justice, equal rights, our rights to country, for law and justice, access to education, employment and to maintain and celebrate our culture, language, music and art.
“They are our mothers, our elders, our grandmothers, our aunties, our sisters and our daughters. Sadly, Indigenous women’s role in our cultural, social and political survival has often been invisible, unsung or diminished.
“The hashtag #BecauseOfHerWeCan demonstrates the women and girls in our communities who hold our families together, fight hard without praise and are showing Australia the tireless work our women contribute to this nation sometimes quietly but determinedly.”
Here are just a few of the incredible, strong, powerful women being celebrated on Twitter:
Wiradjuri woman Shirley Smith, affectionately known as ‘MumShirl’, a hero & a saint. Dedicated her life to welfare services & was influential in the fight for justice & land rights. All while being a Mum to many children and providing shelter for those in need #becauseofherwecan pic.twitter.com/4ZlSsPPMJR
— @IndigenousX (@IndigenousX) July 1, 2018
Oodgeroo Noonuccal Kath Walker (1920–1993), was a black rights activist, poet, environmentalist, and educator. Best known for her poetry, she was the first Aboriginal woman to publish a book of verse. Her poetry and stories continue to inspire today #becauseofherwecan pic.twitter.com/mUohAMHHFJ
— @IndigenousX (@IndigenousX) July 5, 2018
#BecauseOfHerWeCan I was named after the beautiful Yarran Parpur Tarneen. Her name translates to victorious in English cos she was the chiefess of the Moorpoor tribe in Djab Wurrung country. Photo was taken in 1881 & she’s wearing a possum skin cloak & wallaby tooth necklace 🖤 pic.twitter.com/1IeMR4STEK
— Tarneen (@Tarneen) July 10, 2018
FAITH THOMAS aged 25 at the time, she became the first Aboriginal (male or female) to play test cricket for Australia
— Aboriginal Health (@NACCHOAustralia) July 8, 2018
Professor Marcia Langton’s scholarly work from the Social Scientist’s Great Deception, Medicine Square and I heard it on the radio were among the 1st academic texts I encountered that didn’t insist we weren’t real. #BecauseOfHerWeCan be seen in the academy. pic.twitter.com/9bLtxKluUs
— chelsea bond (@drcbond) July 9, 2018
I am blessed to have a mother who is so strong. She is a brilliant educator and a great mentor, not just to me, but to so many others. Her knowledge of Bunuba life and Bunuba culture and history is profound. I am who I am because of her. #NAIDOC2018 #BecauseofHerWeCan pic.twitter.com/z90BbXby3X
— June Oscar (@June_Oscar) July 8, 2018
As the first Yolngu printmaker from northeast Arnhem Land, Banduk Marika, received an honorary doctorate from Flinders University in recognition of her remarkable contributions as a First Nations artist and cultural advocate for the Yolngu people. #becauseofherwecan pic.twitter.com/m78YmBRKPW
— @IndigenousX (@IndigenousX) July 3, 2018
It’s not the first hashtag that’s promoted inclusion and diversity in Australia, with previous instances like #IndigenousDads, #MarriageEquality, #BringThemHere, and #IllRideWithYou generating conversation around the country’s underrepresented social issues.
“Twitter is proud to provide a platform where Indigenous women and girls in our communities can share their stories, make connections, and affect change,” Kara Hinesley, head of public policy and government affairs, Australia and New Zealand at Twitter, told Mashable.
Google also got in on the NAIDOC action, launching a special Doodle to mark the week’s beginning from guest artist Cheryl Moggs, a Bigambul woman from Goondiwindi. The Doodle celebrates Colleen Shirley Perry Smith, better known as “Mum Shirl,” a prominent social worker and humanitarian and activist committed to the justice and welfare of Aboriginal Australians.
Google also launched a feature on Google Assistant which lets you ask, “Share some inspirational indigenous voices.” You’ll hear some voices of prominent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women sharing their stories.
Check out more incredible stories on NAIDOC’s website, even if you’re not in Australia for the festivities.