Idil is a participant in our Youth Activist Series (YAS!) and has been helping us build Free To Be: our digital mapping tool. Idil is passionate about social change, specifically for young people. Through her various volunteer positions, she helps others become more socially aware. She wants long-lasting change for women, people of colour and the Australian Muslim community. We had a lot of fun hanging out with Idil for a few days learning how she sees and experiences Melbourne ❤️

My name is Idil and I’m 20 years old. I live in Carlton, where I’ve been since 2004, so most of my life actually. I think my friends would describe me as really honest, sometimes confrontational. I would describe myself as honest, outspoken, and really enthusiastic. I’m always really happy I think … I just can’t help it!

Idil portrait 1 - Free To Be
Idil portrait 2 - Free To Be

Girls night out, rollerblading

I was raised by a really strong woman, so as a result I became a strong woman. As little as seven years old, I remember my mum calling out things. People would speak slowly to her or loudly, she was like,

Idil and her mum - Free To Be
Supporting my shade from day one 👏🏿

“I’m not hearing impaired, I’m a refugee, I’m from overseas, but I understand what you’re saying and you saying something louder is not going to make it clearer.” So they feel really stupid… which they should. She knows how to approach things.

I’ve deferred this semester so I move around a lot more. I spend a lot of time in Carlton, Fitzroy and then the actual city. A lot of time meeting up with friends to do things, maybe in different places and sometimes in the city itself.

I mostly use the tram and the train as a way of going around. If I’m spending time with friends it’s easiest for me to spend time with them at Melbourne Central. It means they can get home from the train station super quick. I walk them down to the station then I can just come back up and get the tram home.

Idil portrait - Free To Be

Idil portrait - Free To Be

Idil portrait - Free To Be

Outings aren’t complete without nandos 🍴

Idil with friends - Free To Be

Idil with friends - Free To Be

Spontaneous photoshoot b/c Melbourne weather #blessed

I like The Channel and going to Still Nomads events at Signal, they’re really safe but they’re spaces specifically for young people, so they’re made to feel safe. The crowd also looks like me, so I feel safe and just have an awesome time.

When there are spaces that are actively being inclusive  -  because if you’re not actively being inclusive, you’re being exclusive by default -  those are spaces I feel comfortable in.

Idil portrait - Free To Be

I read a lot. A lot of #BlackLivesMatter issues. Everyday Feminism I like. A lot of feminist stuff really, intersectionality in feminism, I like to read about things that relate to me. So things like being black and being Muslim and being a young woman. And coming from a refugee and migrant background. And then I like fiction which is just basically like magic and adventure. I didn’t realise until I started recommending books to a young guy I know that all of my heroines are all women.

Idil portrait - Free To Be
If I ever write a book, I’m totally using this for my author profile 📖 #seriousauthorphoto

Representation really matters. And when I see black women or Muslim women, or a black Muslim woman doing incredible things, for me I’m like, “Oh my god, look at this amazing black Muslim woman!”

But I don’t like it when other people are like “Despite being a black woman” or “Look at how she overcame her Islamic-ness.”

It’s not necessary, it’s really backwards and stupid to think that being black or Muslim is a barrier for us? It’s a barrier because there are barriers to access.

Islamophobia… that’s something that I, in particular, have to be careful about. I have to be aware of what the newspapers are printing because a lot of people will pay attention and take them seriously.

Idil portrait - Free To Be
Never ask me to read a real map tho 🗺

I haven’t had anything particular happen, nobody has tried to assault me or anything, but I’ve heard enough things about people I know.

If I’m going somewhere new in the city, the first thing I do is get the address. Then I get out my laptop and go to Google Maps to check it.

“One of my biggest fears is something horrible happening to me and having people I care about say ‘You shouldn’t have done that, you should have not been out at that time, or you should not have been by yourself’.”

Of course, eventually I could find a location, but I put so much thought into it so I can say that I did everything that I was ‘supposed to do’. I’m very critical of the fact that I do a lot of things that I do not only to keep myself safe, but so I don’t have to be blamed if something does. I shouldn’t have to do that. I want to be really clear in saying it’s never a victim’s fault what happens to them.

Idil portrait - Free To Be
It’s never ever ever your fault! 😘

It’s really easy to meet people in Melbourne, people are really open and if you’re at an event, but you look a little bit lost, people will try to talk to you. I think that’s one of the great things we have.

If you’re new to the city I would say stick to trams, as much as you can because it’s a bit safer, tram stops are normally in places where there are a lot of cars going past. Don’t take the trains until you have a bit of an idea of where things are, and never take trains at night.

I’d love more frequent public transport! I’m on the №8 and №1 tram line but so many trams just go Melbourne Uni and stop… so I’m waiting there quite a bit.

Idil portrait - Free To Be

Idil portrait - Free To Be

Melbourne Uni stop aka tram inspector central 🏃🏾

It’s fine on the week nights, but on the weekends, the longer you’re there, the longer groups of people — who haven’t figured out where they’re going yet for the night — will come and talk to you. And it’s always a group of guys.

I put a certain face on so they don’t speak to me.

Idil portrait - Free To Be

The way women approach me is really different, normally they want to ask something or say something nicely, but guys are like “Where do you live? What are you doing?” and that’s really invasive.

If I tell them where I live or where I’m going later on, they have the ability to follow me or turn up at a place where I’m at. They’re not considering my safety at all because that’s something they don’t have to think about. They don’t have to take so many procedures to be safe.

“It would stop a lot of women from accessing the city, but I’m a little bit rebellious, so I’d kinda of be like, ‘You’re not going to make me feel unsafe’.”

Idil portrait - Free To Be
Footscray station stay lit💡(lol, get it?)

I feel really comfortable accessing City Library, State Library, Melbourne Central, across the street from the State Library. There are so many people there and everyone is just walking around, there’s enough people around there that look like me, it’s never worrying.

I want more than one thing changed. First, decision makers need to realise how much young women think when we go out and how many precautions we take.

If I didn’t have to constantly think about my safety my life would be a lot easier. I would go to a lot more things. It’s not a matter of getting to places, it’s getting home. I’d save a lot of money because I Uber so much trying to get home.

And there’s the idea, is Uber even safe?

Idil portrait - Free To Be
Me. Ubering. With new Solange album keeping us company. Hailed like mad this day. ❄️❄️❄️

“Your mindset comes from life experience basically, so the way that you think, is based on things you’ve learned up until this point.”

People have learned completely different thing to you in their lives, so when you share or talk, you kind of go, “Oh I’ve never thought about it in that way”. Things that they consider, you wouldn’t have considered. So things are automatically better.

Free to Be … it means that women can tell other women where they feel safe and where they feel unsafe. We can discuss it and come to decisions together.

I think it’s really important because it means decision-makers can look at the map and go, “Oh, okay clearly there are a lot of problems in this area, there’s something we need to be doing”.

Then they’re listening to the suggestions by women  -  all of us together.

Idil portrait - Free To Be
Do you want us to say it louder?! 👩🏾👩🏾