IWD 2024: Inward Reflections of Aminata Conteh-Biger

In the quiet contemplation of International Women's Day 2024, Aminata Conteh-Biger engages in a profound dialogue with herself as an African-Australian woman.

People say to me all the time, “You are an inspiration, Aminata. You are everywhere and doing so many wonderful things.” I do wholeheartedly and humbly receive these compliments. But as the years go on, I’ve become increasingly curious: why do I get the praise for being an inspiration but not the resources that I need to do what I am an inspiration for?

Two weeks before International Women’s Day, I was randomly and briefly interviewed by someone with a question. She asked, what are thoughts on the gender pay gap? I immediately answered, I don’t know. I quickly noticed that my response shocked both myself and the interviewer. She then asked, why don’t you know? I explained, I don’t believe the gender gap affects me (meaning a black African-Australian woman like me).

I was invited as one of the panelists for this year’s IWD event at The Commons

This made me wonder, does the gender pay gap include black African-Australian women?

For years, I have been invited to keynote presentations to speak on topics like inclusion, diversity, biases, racism, equality, you name it. All of these topics reflect fundamental needs and rights for all humans. But who am I truly representing? What does representation mean to me?

The work that we do at the Aminata Maternal Foundation, is saving lives from the moment that every human takes their first breath. Childbirth is the fundamental right for every human being. The fact that women are dying pointless deaths to bring life into this world, blows my mind. And I deeply believe that every single human being should say NO to mothers and their babies dying in childbirth. Motherhood should mark a BEGINNING, not an END. 

Aminata speaks to Joy Lawn about her new book “Rising Heart”
During my last visit to Sierra Leone

If you know me, you know that giving up is not an option. I made the decision a while ago that I would do anything to secure the funds and resources to save these women and babies. 

I know that there are so many Australians doing remarkable humanitarian work overseas, and I see them rightfully getting the praise and resources that help accomplish life-changing results. As far as I know, I’m the only charity in Australia run by an African that is doing humanitarian work in Africa. Are we a country, though, that’s so accustomed to seeing Australian charities doing humanitarian work in Africa, that we don’t see the same value in giving resources to an African doing that same work? To me, this is the core of representation. 

So the question I’m asking myself is, why am I not being given the same resources? 

As a mother, author, guest speaker and founder of the Aminata Maternal Foundation, I want to use my time efficiently so that we can put an end to preventable infant and maternal mortality as fast as possible… but the idea of being everywhere and multitasking is a complete turn-off for me. 

Living in Australia for almost 24 years now, there is a lot of… beautiful language floating around. Coming from an African background, this is one thing I’ve noticed: there are certain words we use in the West that trap us in an endless cycle of doing more work, which eventually makes us crash and burn.

My family at last year’s Bluff and Swagger Gala Ball

So I’ve decided to go back to basics. Here are a few words and phrases that you will never ever hear me say… Impostor syndrome, multi-tasking, authentic, amazing. 

Let me be clear, I am not saying we should not use these words, all I am implying is that we must have a deliberate intention when we do.

Please remember that this is a deep conversation with myself, not advice. 

Thanks in advance for allowing me to share. 

If this conversation piqued your interest and you’d like to hear more from me, you can listen to my Address to The National Press Club of Australia or purchase my autobiography ‘Rising Heart: One Woman’s Astonishing Journey From Unimaginable Trauma To Becoming A Power For Good’.

Link to National Press Club Address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMjWDUFq4Tc 

Link to autobiography: https://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781760784966/