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Mandy Barbour

“My dad got quite sick when I was about four and from that point on he was this domestic housewife, and he says very proudly that he was a housewife, and my mum was working full time and was the primary breadwinner. The gender binary was challenged in a lot of ways unintentionally in my house and I guess maybe if I had more conservative parents then I wouldn’t have the audacity to challenge authority – but I certainly do.

The first time I formally challenged an authority figure was when I was about eight as they changed recess at my primary school and I organised a petition and hand delivered it to my principal. I still do that a bit at university. Last year I entered a competition for start-ups and pitched an intersectional feminist film festival (Fem&ist Films) and was the underdog competing against mostly medical technology but we got the funding and we launch in November which is pretty exciting!

Volunteering at Breakthrough 2016 allowed me to get to know the team at the Victorian Women’s Trust and I’ve been hanging around there ever since. They’ve had a huge impact on my personal and professional life. You go in there every day and they’re always talking about gendered issues and having informed discussion about things that matter. They’ve helped me learn by virtue of being in the right place at the right time.”

As told to Judit Brown.

More about MAndy:


Mandy is the founder of Fem&ist Film Festival; an intersectional feminist film festival that explores how female and genderqueer empowerment operates in different communities. The inaugural and hugely successful Fem&ist Film Festival took place November 2017.

Her story appears as part of our series #StoriesThatMakeUs in which we’re turning the spotlight onto the people who make up our community.

Image: Breeana Dunbar

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Stories that make us

In this series, we're turning the spotlight onto some of the people who make up our community. Each person flies the flag for gender equality in their own way. Some do it quietly and purposefully, by giving their time or financial support, whereas others shout the cause out from the rooftops.

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