PhD in Asian Studies - Investigating Tasmania and the Asian Century
I completed professional placement in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia with Musawah, 2014.
Musawah, meaning equality in Arabic, campaigns for changes in the interpretation and implementation of Sharia aspiring to create a safe world for Muslim women across the world. Musawah is the secretariat of the organisation Sisters in Islam and they share the same office space in KL.
My role was as a legal researcher. I collected information on the basic laws regarding female autonomy (marriage, inheritance, divorce laws and domestic violence laws for example) to help in creating a data snapshot of the legal status of Muslim women in nations that practise Sharia.
It has been a long held dream to work with feminist Islam and Musawah enabled me to realise that. I also sought the opportunity to live and work overseas and immerse myself in another country. Professional placement is great because I could do that while also ticking off some uni subjects!
It was an incredible experience and I wish I could do it again. Not only did I meet some personal dreams, I grew and developed in ways I could not have imagined. By the time my placement was completed, I had an entire social life with sport and weekend activities with friends, a 9-5-work placement and a new country to explore. I'm proud of achieving that in a short amount of time. Doing it alone was particularly rewarding. I trust myself to get out there and live. It was awesome.
It's a great adventure but it comes with challenges that have made me more resilient and more understanding of myself. Travelling alone is rewarding, but it can be difficult. Cultural challenges are real too, but more in the way that living and working is total immersion (where I was I was the only intern/foreigner) so it can be sensory overload and sometimes you just need timeout and some Maccas.
Musawah exposed me to the extraordinarily diverse, contradictory and vibrant nature of modern Islam in Malaysia. The Malaysian government do not support Musawah and so I came into contact with the very real political and personal struggles of fighting for legal change and women's legal rights. The whole operation of Musawah is inspiring and surprising and exhilarating.