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Gender identity


'Indigenous women’s experience of discrimination and violence is bound up in the colour of their skin as well as their gender ... Rather than sharing a common experience of sexism binding them with non-Indigenous women, this may bind them more to their community, including the men of the community.'

Social Justice Report 2007—Australian Human Rights Commission

Aboriginal gender identity

The Australian Human Rights Commission's 2006 paper Ending family violence and abuse in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities highlighted the importance of understanding the gender identity of women in Aboriginal communities:


‘In understanding Aboriginal world views in relation to Family Violence, it has to be understood that an Aboriginal woman cannot be considered in isolation, or even as part of a nuclear family, but as a member of a wider kinship group or community that has traditionally exercised responsibility for her wellbeing as she exercises her rights within the group.’

A wider sense of identity

This wider sense of identity—one connected to kin and community (in contrast to individual and immediate family in western cultures)—is often overlooked by policies and in our practice. This means that we often work from a white, middle class perspective of feminism, which does not have meaning for Aboriginal mothers.

The paper further states:

"The notion of patriarchy is foreign to traditional Aboriginal communities, which were relatively separate but equal in terms of male/female roles. While Aboriginal societies were gendered, women were not victims of men’s power, but assertively affirmed their place and role in the community ... this provided both independence yet an essential interdependence between gender groups."

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