Nida challenges the status quo

Chisholm Higher Education College teacher Nida Iqbal is pursuing a PhD on violence against women and girls. Here, she shares her views on challenging the status quo.

Chisholm Higher Education College teacher Nida Iqbal aims to make a difference – both in the classroom and outside of work.

One area she is particularly passionate about is changing the intolerable status quo around violence against women and girls, especially the culture of silence and honour which has consumed many societies, she says.

“Stopping violence against women and girls is not just a matter of punishing individual acts,” says Nida.

“The issue is changing the perceptions and culture of acceptance and silence – which is so deep-seated it is often unconscious and invisible”.

At 17, Nida Iqbal arrived in Australia from Afghanistan as a refugee with her mother and two sisters. She didn’t speak a word of English at the time.

With sheer determination, Nida completed her Bachelor and started working as an interpreter for an organisation that assisted women from different walks of life including victims of family violence and trauma.

The community work started a passion in Nida and she enrolled in a Diploma of Community Development with Chisholm.

For nine years, she worked in the community services sector, then decided to join the Chisholm teaching team in 2015.

Nowadays, Nida teaches in the Bachelor of Community Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs and the Graduate Certificate in Family Violence.

She has various other roles within Chisholm’s Higher Education College, including being the Chair for the Scholarship, Research and Ethics Committee, as well as the Associate for Federation University.

“What I love about teaching is that we are all there for the same purpose – to empower someone, a community, a country or to change something, and challenging the status quo, especially around violence against women and girls,” says Nida.

“A lot of our students have their own personal experiences which has brought them to do our courses or like myself, have their own personal journeys of war, trauma, violence and abuse.

“We all have the same level of compassion and empathy and that is the best part of my work”.

In addition to teaching, Nida has a Law degree and has previously worked as a volunteer solicitor with victims of crime cases, while also doing pro bono work as a migration agent to support refugees and asylum seekers.

She is the co-founder of a not-for-profit organisation which continues to provide education material to developing countries.

Outside of work, Nida loves going to the beach with her two young children, playing badminton, walking the dog, reading and assisting a non-for-profit organisation with funding applications and evaluation.

She has no plans to slow down – in fact this year she will graduate from a Master of Public Health (with specialisation in Global Health Leadership) and is pursuing her PhD in violence against women and girls.

“I want to be that positive role model for my children, where they learn from my work ethics, dedication, compassion and empathy and bring positive change to the world they live in,” says Nida.

“I also aim to change the status quo within my own home and start building a world for my own two daughters to achieve their social, economic, and political rights in this world”.  

For her outstanding contribution to Chisholm and the community, Nida was nominated as Educator of the Year at the 2022 and 2023 Chisholm Education Awards.