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Yassmin Abdel-Magied - Writer, Engineer, and Advocate

Sep 02, 2021 11:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho

Born March 3, 1991, in Khartoum, Sudan, Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a Sudanese-Australian writer, broadcaster, and award-winning social advocate with a background in mechanical engineering. As skilled migrants, her parents moved to Brisbane, Australia with her when she was only 18 months old in late 1992, after the 1989 Sudanese coup d'état. 

Abdel-Magied attended primary school at the Islamic College of Brisbane and the independent Christian high school, John Paul College, at which there was no policy against wearing a hijab. She studied mechanical engineering at the University of Queensland, graduating with a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering with first-class honors in 2011. Abdel-Magied started out as a race car chassis designer and was Team Principal of the UQ Race Car Team at the age of 19. In 2007, she was named Young Australian Muslim of the Year, after she and two others founded Youth Without Borders in Australia, and she continued as chairperson until 2016.

From 2012 until 2016, she worked for multinational engineering companies based in Australia. She went on to become an expert in drilling holes for oil and gas. Her internationally acclaimed TED talk has been viewed over 2.3 million times and was chosen as one of TED’s top ten ideas of 2015. Abdel-Magied 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.

Abdel-Magied 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 the big screen. One of the 2020 LinkedIn Changemakers, Abdel-Magied 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 societies, and corporates on inclusive leadership, tackling bias, and achieving substantive change. 

In 2018, Abdel-Magied presented six six-minute episodes of an Islamic headwear fashion program on ABC iview. In 2020, she co-wrote a 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, and Huffpost. She is a regular news and current affairs commentator on BBC, Aljazeera, Monocle 24, and is a presenter on various BBC World Service radio programs. 

Abdel-Magied has been awarded numerous awards for her advocacy, including the 2018 Young Voltaire Award for Free Speech, and FYA’s Changemaker of the Year in 2017. 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 organization, OurWatch. 






 Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies. She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content. 

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