Rabia Siddique

Are You Brave Enough?




Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacityIf by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably mans superiorIf non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women…”
– Mahatma Gandhi

“Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.”
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

I have just returned from an amazing week away and feel incredibly fortunate for the life I have and for being a woman with privilege, a voice and a platform.

I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the unveiling of the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue on London.  For those of you who don’t understand the significance of this event or the statue, let me explain.  In 2017 one of the largest international banks and asset management corporations, State Street, were tired of standing by while gender inequality in finance and business continued.  They decided to do something brave.  They decided they would no longer advise clients to invest in listed companies who did not have women appointed to their boards. In addition to this, they wrote to over 1200 listed companies and advised them of their new policy.  Within a year 300 of those companies appointed women onto their boards of management and, as all the evidenced based research proved, those companies saw an increase in profits as well as improved and sustainable performance.

To symbolise their new policy and the stance the corporation were taking in their own battle against gender inequality they commissioned a female artist to design a statue which would be erected on Wall St, New York, an iconic place that represents wealth, finance and power.  This statue was unveiled on International Women’s Day 2017, almost 2 years ago to the day.

Fearless Girl rapidly became not just a symbol of gender diversity in finance and commerce, but, I suspect beyond the expectation and intention of State Street, she became a global symbol and icon. Fearless Girl represented gender diversity in its broadest sense, the women’s human rights movement and the raising of female voices. She also symbolized the taking back of feminine power in the forms of campaigns such as #MeToo and the United Nations #HeforShe movement.

This 3.5 foot statue became one of the most photographed attractions in New York and the conversations she ignited and action she inspired exceeded all expectations and hope.

State Street decided to use their influence and privileged position and act in alignment with their values and their corporation’s mission to advise investment for global good.  Realising there was more they could do to leverage Fearless Girl and the hope and inspiration that was becoming her legacy, State Street commissioned a replica statue to erect outside the London Stock Exchange. She was unveiled in London’s Paternoster Square just days before International Women’s Day 2019.

Being asked to speak at such as internationally significant event and address the Banking Hall in London, which was filled with brave, intelligent, powerful and inspirational people, was a memorable and incredible privilege.

If that wasn’t enough of a privilege I then hot footed back to Wollongong via Sydney to address over 800 wonderful women and men at one of the largest International Women’s Day events in Australia.  The stories that were shared that day of incredible local women who had impacted change on people’s lives and the community and the palpable warmth and heart in the Entertainment Centre where we gathered was humbling.

Receiving a standing ovation at both events was memorable. It was not something I interpreted as a reflection on me or my story, but more so a reflection of how my messages resonated with all that heard me.

At both events I explored the theme of fearlessness and asked my audiences if they were brave enough.  Were they truly fearless in their lives and in their leadership of others? 

For me bravery is the ability to confront the realities in our lives and world – the beautiful and the ugly truths. It is about being prepared to do the uncomfortable work of overcoming and changing those realities and in so doing, educate others, change narratives and inspire hope.

As we celebrated all that has been achieved in diversity and equality around the world,  we must also recognize how much more work needs to be done before we come close to achieving real parity of opportunity for over fifty per cent of the population.

As ever, I feel truly blessed to do what I love, believe in what I do and to help empower others to use their voice, their stories and their influence to impact the change they wish to see in their lives, communities and world around them

Postscript:  Just as I was about to finalise this newsletter I received news of the horrific terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 50 innocent men, women and children.  Like all of you I was mortified and heartbroken, and particularly so as a member of the Muslim community who has tried so hard to break down barriers and promote tolerance. No community should ever have to suffer demonisation, oppression and violence like we, as a Muslim community,  have had to for so long. 

Since the attacks I have been asked been widely approached for media commentary.

My main message to everyone is; do not give air time, attention to the identities of those that inflict harm and pain, do not feed the evil ideologies that perpetrate fear, division and ignorance.  Please focus on the stories of the precious victims that lost their lives whilst praying – praying for their families, for their community and for peace and an end to suffering for all.

It is shining a light on these stories that we will continue to give the human perspective to that which we should all be seeking and playing our part in eradicating.

As Martin Luther King Jr said:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
Only light can do that.
Hate cannot stand drive out hate;
Only love can do that. 

To the people of New Zealand and in particular the Muslim community of Christchurch, and all the loved ones of the victims – we mourn with you and we stand by you.

Start as we mean to go on!




As we commence the Lunar New Year I ’d like to wish all my friends, colleagues and like minded souls a joyful, peaceful, successful and prosperous New Year. As this will be the year of the pig, which was the year I was born (1971), I am particularly excited to see what the next 12 months will bring and I am full of optimism and ready to kick some major goals.

Rather than making new year ’s resolutions, I prefer to reflect on the year that was, remind myself what I did well an d what I nee d to focus on doing better in the year to come. I look at this from a holistic perspective – as a story teller, change maker, thought leader, mother, daughter and friend. I find this ‘ reflect and re-set ’ exercise incredibly gratifying and empowering. Perhaps it’s something you’d like to try – it’s not too late.

One of the things I identified in my ‘reflect’ that I needed to focus on better was creating boundaries – in my professional and personal life. You see, like many of us, I am a giver and a people pleaser. I love to serve and help others. Nothing gives me more joy. But I have done so, at times, to the expense of myself and my loved ones.

As someone who is known for their humanitarian, philanthropic and community work, I find myself in a very honoured and privileged position where I am often called upon to help, advise, and empower others. However, from time to time I have found that the countless hours and days I have dedicated to my pro bono work, all of which has been for and with well deserving individuals and organisations, has resulted in me paying less attention to my family, maintaining and growing my business and my own health and wellbeing.

So, as one of my mentors once advised me to do, this must be the year that I start using the words ‘no’ and ‘not at this time’ as boundary words. In the long run, this will allow me to keep doing good, serving others, preserving the value of my time and loving in a more sustainable way.

Does this resonate with you?  I think at the very least we could all do with a little reflect and re-set!

Sending my warm wishes to you all.  Be kind to yourselves, to each other and celebrate all that is good in your life and in our world.

A time to reflect




I was incredibly fortunate to be gifted tickets for my birthday from my parents to see Malala Yusafzai in Melbourne this week.  I have followed the story of this amazing young woman, read her book and watched her documentary.  In person she was every bit as inspiring, courageous, wise and funny as I hoped she would be.  Listening to her speak and converse with the wonderful Annabel Crabb was an evening I will never forget.  A beautiful reminder at such an appropriate time of the year that one person, one idea, one voice, one pen or one book really can change the world.  The ripple effect of Malala’s story and her advocacy for the education of girls around the world is the clearest example I can think of today of an ordinary person who experienced and overcame incredible adversities to do extraordinary things.

At this time of year when many of us reflect on the year that was and what is to come, remember the love and friendship that surrounds us and the loss that we feel so acutely during this season, it is so important to search for and find the beauty in our world, the humanity and the hope.

Like many of you, this year has been a challenging one for me, but also one of deep personal growth, so listening to Malala was a timely and beautiful reminder of all that is good in us, and the good we can do if we choose love, peace and hope.

Sending my warm wishes to you all at this time.  Be kind to yourselves, to each other and celebrate all that is good in your life and in our world.

I very much look forward to continuing conversations, working with you and impacting change together in 2019.

Are You Kidding Me?




Last week I took my new car in for its first service.

Obtaining the service was one of those pedestrian jobs that I had been putting off.

And, although my ex-husband had obtained a quote to have the car serviced some months earlier, I had forgotten about the price obtained.

I called the servicing branch of the dealership from which I purchased my car, thinking that getting them to service it during its warranty period would be the best way forward.  They provided me with a quote, which seemed quite high, but my passing thought was that I was paying a premium because my car is made in the UK (Land Rover).  After some argument about providing me with a courtesy car as part of their service, rather than their initial suggestion, that I pay for the loan car (something I had never done before with any previous services), I booked my car in for the service.

As is usually the case when collecting the car at the end of the day there were a few minor additions to the invoice. But, by and large, the invoice was close to the quoted price, so I paid it.

A few days later when speaking to my ex-husband he asked me what I ended up paying for my service. When I told him, he almost fell over and said the amount they invoiced me was almost $300 more than the quote he had initially obtained a few months earlier.  He explained he had spoken to two other women who received invoices from the same dealership that were inflated when compared with the initial quotes their husbands obtained.

It appeared this company had form for over-charging women, or at the very least a pattern was emerging with their charging practices.

Later that same day I called the company, asked for their servicing manager and put the whole story to him.  After (very little) argument and an initial claim that I had actually agreed to a second and not a first service, an argument that was quickly dismissed, the manager agreed to refund me the gap between the initial quote and the invoice I paid.

They had been busted!  Caught red-handed!

I couldn’t believe it.  October 2018 and companies in this country are doing this.  I am still considering whether I will pursue this. At the very least I needed to write about my experience and warn you all to be vigilant!  Discrimination and sexism in many forms is alive and well.  There is still so much work to be done in the area of equality and this is just one (almost unbelievable) example.

I have related this story to a number of male and female friends and their initial reaction has all been the same – are you kidding me?!

The Invisible Wounds




It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. The reason is I am currently writing my second book, which has required a lot of my focus and energy. I hope you will forgive my silence and I promise to keep you informed of the progress of, what I hope will be a book that will empower, challenge and inspire.

My work never stops providing me with opportunities to learn, grow and be inspired by others. Last week I had the honour of presenting the opening keynote presentation at the Australasian Military Medical Association in Canberra. Much of the conference was devoted to the issue of mental illness and trauma, and the need for healthcare professionals to provide care both on and off the battlefield.

There was discussion and general agreement about the need to afford sufficient importance to the often invisible wounds suffered by those that serve and have served on the frontline (military veterans, first responders as well as civilian victims of conflict), and the often complex and lengthy journey involved in overcoming and healing from trauma, anxiety and stress. Initiatives involving evidence based research, the improvement and ease of access to health care for patients, and the accurate recording of diagnostic statistics were all part of the changing dialogue and narrative around mental illness and injury within the Defence setting.

It was poetic that this conversation and conference was taking place within RUOK Day. It was heartening that we, as a nation, have finally started to change our culture and perceptions around mental illness and injury. I believe this shift has taken place as a direct result of the courageous stories that have been shared over recent years by those that have suffered mental trauma and distress.

The power of the story to challenge and change perceptions, attitudes, behaviour and even policy should not be underestimated. Testimony to the importance of story telling is that it is now being embraced more and more by industry, commerce and in the broader leadership context.

We can and should all be story tellers. We should reflect on our own stories to gain greater insight into who we are and what drives us. We should give ourselves permission to be vulnerable and share our truths – the beautiful and the ugly. We should do this to create deeper, respectful and trusting relationships with others and to challenge opinions and perceptions that aren’t serving anyone.

We often talk about the importance of getting an organisation’s culture right. Culture I believe is a direct reflection of the relationships and conversations that exist and take place within an organisation. So asking the right questions, sharing impactful stories, and listening with an open mind and heart is the only way to challenge and change culture – and it starts at the top.

Last week I witnessed the changing of culture within the Defence setting, and more and more I am witnessing the same beautiful phenomena with individuals, organisations and communities with whom I work. It is such a privilege.

This coming week marks the beginning of the Invictus Games 2018, which will be held in Sydney. I encourage you to take a little time to watch the courage, resilience and comradery of all the teams taking part in the Games, many of whom are military veterans that have travelled or are still on the journey to recovering from mental trauma and injury. The stories they will share and the choice to use sport as a uniter and healer will, I’m sure, be tangible and inspiring.

Thank you to the Illawarra Mercury for this great article and positive feedback:

‘Standing ovation at inspirational Legacy lunch in Wollongong’.

An inspirational and powerful address drew a standing ovation for Rabia Siddique at the annual Legacy Business & Community Lunch in Wollongong on Friday.


I am delighted to be an Ambassador for a number of worthy charities and not for profit organisations that focus on serving and empowering others. One such organisation is 100 Women, an Australian giving circle that focuses on funding projects aimed at improved education, healthcare and economic independence of women and children in their communities. On Friday 2nd November at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Perth, 100 Women will be holding it’s annual grant awards ceremony and I have the honour of MCing this event. If you would like to know more about the work of 100 Women, or how you can become a member, please email me at info@rabiasiddique.com.

As an Ambassador of Opportunity International, I will be presenting at ‘Platform’ in East Perth on Wednesday, 21st November. Opportunity International helps everyday people like you and me give families living in poverty the tools to transform their lives and their communities through micro-finance assistance. If you’d like to know more about this amazing charity, please email me.

As a Board Member of The Museum of Tolerance and Freedom, Australia’s first virtual human rights and social change museum, I am excited to share some information about the exciting events we have planned in the lead up to (delete and to celebrate) Human Rights Day on 10 December 2018. This day (delete) also marks the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To learn more about the events, how you can attend, take part and become a member of our museum and movement to dismantle prejudice, discrimination and intolerance across Australia and our world, click on the link below.

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