Rabia Siddique

Time to Make a Change

TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE

 

 

TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE

This month I’d like to share with you two big decisions I have made and steps I have decided to take in using my experience, privilege, voice and sphere of influence to serve others and impact change in a greater way.  They have come about as a result of a wonderful introduction and subsequent invitation from a man who has committed his life’s work to helping others and making our world a more peaceful place.

Below are two just released announcements. So, you my friends are among the first to know about this important work I am dedicating myself to:

Australian human rights advocate joins global peace project

International human rights advocate, author and inspirational speaker Rabia Siddique has joined the global advisory board of Project Peace On Earth (PPOE).

The appointment of Australia’s noted humanitarian comes in the lead up to PPOE’s planned Evolving Planet 7 (EP7) world-wide concert series.

The concerts will be held at seven sacred sites around the globe and it is hoped that Uluru, will, with the permission of the custodians and elders, be among these sites. 

Founded by philanthropist and former professional Motorcross racer and Fortune 500 sales executive, Steve Robertson, PPOE’s purpose is to inspire greater worldwide love, peace and compassion through hosting inspirational concerts.

Mr Robertson, who is chief executive officer of PPOE, said he anticipated that the first event in a seven-year series of worldwide concerts, entitled “Evolving Planet 7” TM (EP7), would begin in 2020.   

Each year EP7 would broadcast sacred music from seven different sacred sites around the globe to ultimately reach over a billion people world-wide.  

Proceeds from the concerts would be used to lift children out of poverty and address issues of water, food, clothing, shelter, safety, education, health care and sustainability.

Ms Siddique joins an impressive global line-up of PPOE board members including James Cameron, Stewart Copeland, Arun Gandhi, Grammy winning musicians, world thought leaders and Emmy winning television producers.

Mr Robertson said Ms Siddique’s entire career and personal journey lent itself to PPOE’s mission of promoting peace from a philosophical and pragmatic perspective.

As a living example of  how each one of us could be a positive change for peace, Ms Siddique was approached because of her human rights advocacy, her military background and her extensive experience as an international criminal, war crimes, terrorism and human rights lawyer.  

Often speaking from her heart, Ms Siddique, whose life mantra followed Mahatma Gandhi’s creed of ‘Being the change you wish to see in the world’, provided a significant voice in broadening the global reach of Project Peace On Earth.

Mr Robertson said PPOE’s goal was to make people more aware of how we could all be instruments for peace.

“This is done by reminding people that all wars first begin within ourselves,” Mr Robertson said.

“By perceiving differing people as the others and through the power of transforming this perception into the vision of seeing all as our brothers and sisters, we will, as John Lennon reminded us in Imagine, One Day we will live as one.”

Ms Siddique, who will also be an outreach ambassador for PPOE and the Evolving Planet 7 Concert Series, said she looked forward to making more Australians aware of this incredible project.

“While we are Australians, we are also global citizens and must recognise our privileged position and use it for the greater good of peace and the sustainability of our world.”     

Decorated by the Queen for her humanitarian work, Ms Siddique, who is also a board member for the International Foundation of Non Violence, is a multi-award winning inspirational speaker, media commentator and best-selling author.

Her first novel, Equal Justice, which chronicles her journey as a woman, lawyer, soldier and Muslim, is the focus for a feature film.

To learn more about PPOE visit www.ProjectPeaceOnEarth.org   

Media contact Eve Duffy on 0439981505 

Providing a global voice for veterans suffering from
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Former military lawyer, hostage survivor and human rights advocate Rabia Siddique has joined the board of the US based Support Veterans Now.

Perth-based Ms Siddique, is the only non-US board member on SupportVeteransNow – a global organisation which provides a voice and holistic support for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Ms Siddique, a PTSD survivor who endured a horrific hostage ordeal during her military duty in Iraq, said she hoped her role could help provide a global voice for Australian and New Zealand veterans.

“The global reach and access to the best research, treatment, advocates and stories for change is crucial and I’m excited to be able to play a small part here,” Ms Siddique said.

The retired British Army officer has championed those affected by PTSD since winning a landmark case against the British Government for silencing her about her frontline role in negotiating the release of some special forces soldiers.

Garnering global attention, the case resulted in widespread policy change to combat racism and discrimination in the British military for women and ethnic minorities

Rabia’s best-selling memoir, Equal Justice: My Journey as a Woman, a Soldier and a Muslim” chronicles the eight hour hostage ordeal where she almost lost her life and the subsequent fight for justice for herself and other minorities.  

Support Veterans Now’s Steering Committee and Advisory Board consists of the world’s top experts and thought leaders in addressing the healing process of PTSD and the honouring rite of passage back into society of returning veterans.

Founder Steve Robertson said Ms Siddique’s military background, experience as a lawyer, her personal experiences in overcoming PTSD and human rights advocacy would prove invaluable to SupportVeteransNow.

Mr Robertson, a former professional Motorcross racer turned Fortune 500 sales executive, said Ms Siddique entire career background and inward journey all lets itself to the organisation’s mission.   

Learn more at www.SupportVeteransNow.org

I feel incredibly honoured to have been given the opportunity to contribute and serve others at such a strategic level and in an international context.  This has come about by deciding to just say YES and follow my passion, my instinct and honour my WHY.

I hope this may have inspired you to do the same.  What change can you impact and how can you step up to serve in a way that is bigger and beyond yourself?

How do we combat overwhelm?

HOW DO WE COMBAT OVERWHELM?

 

 

HOW DO WE COMBAT OVERWHELM?

June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness month – a condition I know a lot about having been diagnosed with and suffering from this illness in 2006 following my tour of Iraq.  This and events that have occurred in my life this last month have been the catalyst for this newsletter.

For those of us living in the southern hemisphere we are approaching that time of the year when fatigue, lethargy, stress and low mood present as challenges to many of us.  As winter sets in, shorter days more hours of darkness, cold temperatures and wet weather make it more tempting to bunker down, hibernate, seek refuge and comfort indoors and shy away from outdoor and social activities.  This behaviour makes it easier for normal stressors to get the better of us and for stress and anxiety to gradually build to the point of overwhelm – or worse.

I can certainly relate to this.  Whilst I love the seasonal changes and the beauty that comes with the arrival of winter, not to mention the perfect excuse to get out the ugg boots and fluffy jumpers, winter for many of us inevitably triggers mood disorders, where we are essentially less able to harness our resilience, strength, wisdom and the clarity needed to address and solve everyday problems and overcome common obstacles.

I recently found myself in a position where growing stressors, anxiety and a couple of unexpected emotional setbacks took their toll and put me at risk of heading towards overwhelm. I was showing all the usual signs of heading down the road to emotional overload – poor sleep, feelings of lethargy, lack of clear thinking and problem solving, mental and emotional confusion and the inability to protect and preserve personal and professional boundaries.  I was fortunate to be able to call upon previous lived experience, lessons learned over my life and specifically the last 18 months, the support of dear friends and the unconditional love of family members to open my eyes and help me see what was going on. I was shown what I needed to do to break the circuit of building stress and anxiety.

If any of this resonates with you, if you are feeling low, stressed, sad, increasingly anxious or even overwhelmed I urge you to do something about it – especially at this time of year, when the elements are also working against many of us. Honour and don’t be afraid to rely on trusted family and friends, get out into nature to breath the fresh air and observe the beauty around you. Meditate, rest and use movement of any sort to get the blood pumping and blow out the cobwebs. Don’t afraid to speak out and be vulnerable.  You are not alone.  We must all look after ourselves and look after each other.  We owe it to ourselves and those who love and rely on us to look within and put the oxygen mask on our own face before we help another.

The problems or challenges may not magically go away. However, by practising resilience and allowing yourself to be vulnerable you are more likely to gain the clear mind and healthy attitude to better equip you to deal with them. 

We are encouraged to ask our friends, colleagues and family members RUOK? Before you do this I would encourage you to first ask yourself AMIOK?

If none of this helps and you or others are worried about your wellbeing, please seek professional help.

Thinking bigger and getting into the arena

THINKING BIGGER AND GETTING INTO THE ARENA

Last month I spoke about the quality of authentic, values based leadership that was so obviously displayed by the Prime Minister of New Zealand in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks.

Over a week ago ago Australia voted in the Federal election for its new Government and Prime Minister. The surprising results said a lot about our country and why people voted the way they did.

I usually avoid commenting on politics and political parties. But, rather I tend to focus my views on specific policies and leadership decisions, and how they impact people, communities and a nation.  However this election has given me much to reflect on, especially in light of what we have seen with the people and their elected leader in our neighboring country

The election campaign saw both sides, one in particular, wage a very negative war.  Rather than focusing on its policies and agenda for the country it focused it’s messages around discrediting and belittling the opposition and using the narrative of fear to persuade people to favour one party over another.  The other side were not much better.  Rather than clearly articulating their policies, agenda and values, they pushed the narrative of fear and division, waging a class war and trying to pit the alleged poor and working class against the middle class and perceived wealthy.

The whole pre-election spectacle for many of us was uninspiring, disappointing and a reminder of the lack of storing, honourable and courageous leadership we currently have in Australia.  The election results make it clear that our country has joined those that have increasingly embraced the rise of conservatism and nationalism in some parts of the country. The results showed the continued tendency by our political leaders to focus on short term wins over longer term sustainability. Neither major party offered a clear strategy to assure sustainability.

When I voted my focus was not on the impact of my back pocket, or home accounts, but more on things that are bigger than myself.

My thoughts were about the future and quality of life of our working poor, our unemployed, of our under-represented and often voiceless Indigenous brothers and sisters, of our asylum seekers and refugees, of our marginalised communities, of our farmers, and of my children and their children and the planet they would be inheriting.  This is what informed my vote, and I assumed it would have informed the vote of most of Australians.

But it seems I may have been wrong.  The unwillingness to think bigger and the language of negativity, fear and division that leaders across the Western world have been feeding led to one of the most shocking election results in Australia’s history.

So what now?  Do we put action on climate change on hold for another 3-5 years?  Do we continue to indefinitely intern asylum seekers?  Do we sit back and watch while the poor become the homeless and mental illness grows from surge to plague proportions?

Or do we dust ourselves off and remember that democracy should occur every day and not just on election day? We must demand of our leaders that they demonstrate integrity, vision and true custodianship of our land, our people and our future.

We must show our leaders that we are better than what we have been.  We must use our privilege, our voice, our education and our influence to impact positive change in our lives and, more importantly, in the lives of those around us that need it the most.

That is our legacy, that is our responsibility and it’s down to us all.

That is why for three days at the end of May I attended  s p a c e!  Not literally our outer galaxy, but a gathering like no other – an un-conference if you will, where everyone is a contributor.  s p a c e is the coming together of many other thought leaders, disruptors, innovators and change agents.  Like and un-like minded people will explore what we as a people can do to collaborate, inspire and deliver change where it is most needed. These are the people that, as Brene Brown said in her talk “Call to Courage” are the ones in the arena getting their heads kicked in on a daily basis, but choosing to continue to show up, get dirty and take action.

Are you in the arena?  Are you being distracted by the side shows that we have seen in the run up to our election? Are you thinking bigger?  Are you using your voice and influence for the greater good?

As I often say about the commitments we must make as leaders, we must be prepared to constantly face our realities, challenge our perceptions, protect hope and do the uncomfortable and courageous.

One of Us

ONE OF US

April is a significant month in many ways.  While Christians around the world celebrated the resurrection of Jesus, the son of God, on Easter Sunday and honored his sacrifices, the month is also marked by other significant reminders of human sacrifice.  Notably, Anzac Day on April 25 is a day when Australians and New Zealanders commemorate all their brothers and sisters who have served and died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

When reflecting on these celebrations it struck me that while we remember death and sacrifice, both Anzac Day and Easter also focused on the celebration of life, courage and the legacy left by human life.

Tragically this year’s Easter celebrations were deeply marred by the barbaric terrorism attacks in Sri Lanka which killed almost 300 innocent men, women and precious children.  Just like the Christchurch attacks a few weeks earlier, these souls were massacred whilst peacefully praying and practicing their religion at a holy time in their places of worship. These were places of sanctity where they should have been safe.

Like most of you I have been shocked, enraged, grieved and despaired by these and other acts of terrorism that target groups of people and communities around the world. 

As I reflect on these senseless attacks I keep coming back to one question we must all ask ourselves:

HOW DO WE FIND WAYS FORWARD TO PREVENT EXTREMIST IDEOLOGIES FROM PITTING US AGAINST EACH OTHER?

My view is that the answer to this question lies with every one of us.  It is in the language we use, how we treat others, the perceptions we have of ourselves and our community, what we teach our children, the values we hold dear and the priorities we give to kindness, inclusivity, peace and acceptance.  It is calling out and challenging racist, prejudice, bigoted views in the workplace, in our homes and in public places that serve to perpetuate the ‘othering’ that has been the subject of so much divisiveness and fear mongering in the narrative of many of our leaders and politicians.  It is the willingness to sit down and have meaningful conversations with people that don’t look like or live like us in an effort to understand them better and see similarities between us all, as well as celebrate the differences that make up the rich tapestry of our modern societies.  It is the commitment we make to find common ground with all our brothers and sisters, and using that as the cement with which to unite us.

It is, as Prime Minister Adern said in one of her speeches following the Christchurch attacks, seeing all the victims of hate and terror as one of us.  It is deciding to focus on them and celebrating their life and telling their stories.  It is doing everything we can to comfort and bring in closer their communities and it is refusing to give attention and a name to those that spread fear, terror and bloodshed.

Those that normalise, give permission to and perpetuate extremist, radical, hateful ideologies do so not in our name.  We must make that clear in the way we live, lead and teach those around us.  Those that are the victim of that hatred must be protected, engaged with and understood better.

That is how we can all play a role in making our communities and our world a safer and more tolerant place to live.  It starts with our daily acts and thoughts and it is the undeniable and unstoppable ripple effect of ordinary people like us that will be the change we so desperate need in our world. I passionately believe this.  We must all believe this.

To the victims and loved ones of Christchurch and Sri Lanka – we mourn with you and we stand by you.

Are You Brave Enough?

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.

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