Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a Sudanese-Australian writer, broadcaster and award-winning social advocate with a background in mechanical engineering.
One of the 2020 LinkedIn Changemakers, Yassmin is a globally sought-after advisor on issues of social justice, focused on the intersections of race, gender and faith. She has travelled to over 24 countries across five continents, speaking to governments, civil society and corporates on inclusive leadership, tackling bias and achieving substantive change. Yassmin’s internationally acclaimed TED talk, What does my headscarf mean to you, has been viewed over 2.3 million times and was chosen as one of TED’s top ten ideas of 2015. Soon after, Yassmin became a lightning rod for such discussions in Australia and globally, challenging the orthodox view of gender in Islam and spurring on a global conversation about being a young, Black Muslim woman in the West today. Speaking out came at a cost, and now ‘getting Yassmined’ is an academically recognised term for the punishment meted out against women of colour who challenge white comfort.
Yassmin published her best-selling memoir, Yassmin’s Story, with Penguin Random House at age 24, following up with her first novel for younger readers, You Must Be Layla, in 2019. The sequel, Listen Layla, is scheduled for release in 2021 and both books have been optioned for screen. Her TV show Same Same, co-created with Tania Safi, was optioned for production by Little Dot Studios in 2019. In 2020, Yassmin co-write the sold-out immersive theatre production at Kensington Palace, United Queendom, and was awarded the prestigious Keesing Studio International Development Residency by the Australia Council. Beyond her fiction work, Yassmin’s social commentary has appeared in TIME magazine, The Guardian, Teen Vogue, The Independent, Huffpost, London’s Evening Standard and more, with her work on the Sudanese Revolutions of particular note. Her critically acclaimed essays have also been published widely, including in the best-selling It’s Not About The Burqa and The New Daughters of Africa.
Yassmin’s broadcasting portfolio is equally diverse. On TV, Yassmin was the presenter for the national current affairs show Australia Wide, the host for the ground-breaking documentary The Truth About Racism, and created Hijabistas, a series looking at the modest fashion scene in Australia. She is a regular news and current affairs commentator on The BBC, Aljazeera, Monocle 24 and is a presenter on various BBC World Service radio programs. Yassmin has also hosted numerous podcasts, including Motor Mouth (on becoming a Formula 1 driver), EY’s Better Questions (helping CEOs lead into the future), and The Guilty Feminist.
Yassmin has over a decade of governance experience across sectors, allowing her work to be informed by both theory and experience. She founded Youth Without Borders at the age of 16, then started Mumtaza a decade later, focusing on women of colour. Yassmin has been awarded numerous awards for her advocacy, including the 2018 Young Voltaire Award for Free Speech, FYA’s Changemaker of the Year in 2017 and Queensland Young Australian of the Year in 2015. She is currently a Trustee of the London Library, and has previously served on the Boards of the Queensland Museum, ChildFund Australia, the Australian Multicultural Council, The Council for Australian-Arab Relations and the domestic violence prevention organisation, OurWatch. Yassmin was also Head of Media for the Australian Youth G20 Summit, the Gender Ambassador for the Inter-American Development Bank and a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering Global Challenges Steering Committee.
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Yassmin started out as a race car chassis designer and was Team Principal of the UQ Race Car Team at 19. She graduated Valedictorian with First Class honours from mechanical engineering at 20, then went on to work as one of the few female engineers on oil and gas rigs around Australia, before pivoting to focus on her writing and broadcasting career.
In all her work, Yassmin is an advocate for transformative justice and a fairer, safer world for all.