Inspiring Women of ANU Law: Jamila Rizvi

Jamila Rizvi
Jamila Rizvi is an author, media commentator and ANU Law alumna.

To mark International Women's Day this year we are celebrating some of the women who make our College a world-leading institution for legal education and research.

Jamila Rizvi (BComm/LLB '10) is an ANU Law alumna and Chief Creative Officer of Future Women podcast. A weekly columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald, shpreviously worked in politics for the Rudd and Gillard governments and has authored two books. She is currently writing her third book, which explores the intersection between physical and mental health by drawing on her ongoing brain tumour battle. Jamila was recently named the 2020 Victoria winner of the Excellence in Women’s Leadership.

What inspired you to study law?

Like so many law students, I enrolled because I had this silly idea that you had to ‘use up’ all your UAI (Universities Admission Index) points. I enrolled because I got in. However, I quickly fell in love with the law and the mixture of logical and lateral brain required for success in the field.

My years spent at ANU Law is a time I look back on with enormous fondness. I learned a whole lot from my teachers, textbooks, friends and fellow students. I learned a whole lot about the law, and about life.

What motivates you?

A potentially naïve optimism. I have always believed in the power of people working together to achieve enormous good. It sounds rather trite and in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary in our world right now, it sounds a little silly too.

Nonetheless, humanity has strategised and compromised itself out of every threat to its existence so far. Perhaps we can do it again in my lifetime. That’s rather enough motivation for anyone, I would imagine.

Who is a woman you look up to?

I only get to name one? One woman? I have hundreds. Just yesterday I was at an event with Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, Workplace Gender Equality Agency Head Libby Lyons, Our Watch Chair Natasha Stott Despoja and Julie Reilly, of the Australian Women Donors’ Network. I list those accomplished, incredible women not by way of name-dropping (although I’m clearly doing that, too!), but because I love how they spent all day enjoying one another’s company and supporting one another’s ambitions. They are competitive when it comes to implementing their respective visions for the future and not with one another. I aspire to be like that.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

For me, the quality of women and men is a daily pursuit. I intend for it to be the work project of my lifetime. However, IWD is the one time of year when everyone gets interested, active and engaged around those issues most dear to my heart. To think that half the world’s population has been held back throughout human history, by reason only of their gender, continues to baffle and enrage me. We have come so far and equally; we have so far to go.

What advice would you give you more junior self?

Do not underestimate the importance of kindness. People will ultimately forget what you do, they will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you make them feel. Value the people you work and live with for who they are and what they have to offer, even if it’s different to your own contribution.


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Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team