Previous winners of the Voltaire Award include former human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs, commentator Waleed Aly, journalists including David Marr activists and critics. Apparently of us.
The Young Voltaire Award has been awarded to mechanical engineer, award-winning social advocate, author and broadcaster, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, whose February 2017 appearance on the ABC’s Q&A was a sensation, gathering over 12 million views in less than a week. Yassmin's courageous activism on topics of race, equality and unconscious bias have brought her to the forefront of public debate in Australia and abroad. Her acclaimed TED talk, ‘What does my headscarf mean to you’ and other public appearances have made her a globally renowned speaker. Yassmin has published an autobiography entitled 'Yassmin's Story', which tells the story of growing up as a Sudanese Muslim woman in Australia.
After a social media post on Anzac Day saying 'LEST. WE. FORGET. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)', Yassmin was attacked by internet trolls, tabloid newspapers and even numerous Members of Parliament. Yassmin refused to give in to fear mongering. Despite being personally targeted by high profile political figures through inaccurate and racist media reporting, she would not be silenced. She continued to speak out against racism, discrimination and harmful stereotypes. Yassmin continues to give voice to the experience of young Muslim women in Australia and beyond.
Later, she said, “The reality is the visceral nature of the fury — almost every time I share a perspective or make a statement in any forum — is more about who I am than about what is said."