Award-winner Tara Fatehi, 25, is a medical science student, and co-founder of the Adelaide Kurdish Youth Society. She is a passionate advocate for women and the youth.
A delighted Fatehi accepted the award on Tuesday “on behalf of all Kurdish women, and dedicated it to [all] Kurdish women fighters.”
For Fatehi, the mere act of identifying as a member of a stateless nation is a political stance. “As a Kurd, most of the time simply existing in this world is resistance,” she told K24 in an email interview.
Fatehi added that she strongly identifies with Kurdish women and their long history of sacrifice.
“I come from a nation of lionesses, women who have fought generations of hostility towards their gender and their ethnicity,” she said. “That plays in all my work. I am only a daughter and sister of female warriors.”
The Women Hold Up Half The Sky award honors Fatehi’s outstanding contribution to her community. The title of the prize is inspired by an artwork the artist Ann Newmarch AO created.
Gail Gago, Minister for the Status of Women, says the award is important in ensuring that the valued contribution women make to the community does not go unnoticed.
For Fatehi the award is valuable because it draws attention to the plights of her nation in the global community. “At a time like now when we see what is happening to our people in Turkey...while the war against ISIS continues to rage on and the Kurds are left behind to rebuild...while others are trying to find safety across the world...for me this award highlights their struggle,” Fatehi said.
Being recognized by the Australian community motivates her to continue her activities despite many challenges.
“Awards like this one give our community and our people a voice. And my constant aim has always been just that, for the Kurdish people to have a voice on platforms across the world. If I can do the very small bit here in South Australia, then that is what I will continue to do,” Fatehi said.
Born in Sina, Rojhalat (Iranian Kurdistan), Fatehi was three-years-old when her family immigrated to the city of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. The community’s challenges inspired her to organize the Adelaide Kurdish Youth Society to establish a connection between Kurds in the city and the country. The organization focuses on leadership skills, health, education and social justice.
Not only does she try to find ways to support Kurds at home and in Diasporas, she also deals with the hostility of other immigrant communities in Australia.
Fatehi says ethnic groups who neighbor the Kurdish land in the Middle East continue their efforts to disregard and antagonize Kurds oceans away from home.
“My personal story is that of one of 40 million Kurds globally. And while we have to deal with what is happening in Kurdistan, we have to battle these struggles locally like our community has had to with the Persians in the past few weeks,” Fatehi said.
But the young activist says she knew from the beginning that she would be isolated and criticized for her activities, though she remains positive. Fatehi’s medical research focuses on Kurdish women’s health issues such as childbirth, but also more controversial topics such as self-immolation, honor killing, and female genital mutilation.
For Fatehi, health, gender, and ethnic rights are intertwined and inseparable subjects.
Reporting, writing by: Ava Homa
Editing by: Karzan Sulaivany