#WahineWednesday: Shivali Harman
Meet the New Social Media Coordinator at the Hamilton Y
Where did you grow up and what’s your best memory of that place?
Born and raised in Kirikiriroa, I have many fond memories of my childhood. Most of which center around the beautiful friends and family which I am so grateful to be surrounded by. I would spend school holidays with my cousins and our grandparents at their beach house in Waitrere making huts in the forest. Weekends would often be spent in Auckland at the beach and watching movies with family friends. Afterschool I would be eating a feast that my Ba (grandmother) had put on for me. Although Hamilton often gets a bad reputation, I really love it and love the people in my life.
If you could give your younger self some advice what would it be?
I would tell my younger self that diversity is my biggest asset- something I should never feel like I need to hide. While I would consider myself Pakeha I have a very significant cultural tie to my Indian heritage. As a result I have struggled hugely with the ways others perceive me. Although sadly, this includes the way I see myself. It took a university paper on ethnicity to realise I have presented my identity to make me seem ‘less ethnic’ because of the racism and othering I have experienced growing up. Reflecting back, there are countless opportunities I have missed so that I could appear to be part of the majority. My family, their values and what that stands for is something I should never feel ashamed for. In fact, something I should feel so proud of. My identity is one of a kind, just like everyone else's. Other opinions of me should never change how I value myself.
What would you like to see changed, for the better, for all women?
At its simplest form I'd like to see all women be respected. Society needs more respect for a woman's body, opinions, choices, successes and values. I’d also love for women to respect themselves more. I think as women, we all have some degree of internalised misogyny that affects the way we see ourselves, live life, the way we form relationships and act in them. It's a complex, multifaceted, intersectional issue that requires an overhaul of collective beliefs and values. Change for women will not happen overnight, however, every small action taken is a crucial step towards equitable outcomes.
Can you share a time or moment when you felt unstoppable/invincible/on fire (and why)?
Within the last year of my life I have experienced a lot of change. Change where previously I would have spent hours lamenting over what other people would think. Now, I have truly stopped caring about what people think of me or my decisions. I know my worth, I know what I stand for and I do not need other people to validate me. I feel a new sense of freedom now I have released myself from feeling people's judgements. I am imperfect. The people that care about me will love me for who I am, just as I appreciate everyone important to me in my life. Catch me living my best life as a carefree gal!
Can you tell us why you joined the Y?
I would struggle to work for an organisation that does not align with my values for equality, growth and togetherness. The Y is the embodiment of my values for all women to have a voice, engage, learn, feel good about themselves and celebrate who they are. The Y creates opportunities for women, by women. If my work can contribute to better outcomes for others then I know I am doing what I should be. I am so excited to be part of an organisation that encourages my own self-development and empowerment.
The Y is the embodiment of my values for all women to have a voice, engage, learn, feel good about themselves and celebrate who they are.