Contributing to society can take place in many different ways. Some join an NGO, some found a startup, and some do volunteer work. Alma Zadić, Austrian minister of justice, knew early on that she wanted to contribute.
“I wanted to be the change and not just be changed.”– Alma Zadić
So she went into politics and hasn’t looked back since.
But it’s not been an easy journey. Being both a woman and a migrant, Zadić has experienced a lot of resentment from the right-wing in Austria. She has had to deal with cyberhate, death threats, and discrimination, and that’s been hard.
“But at the same time, the majority of people saw what was going on, saw how much hate I was getting and they send me messages, send me strength, send me support. People were calling in the ministry saying, ‘madam minister we support you and don’t take all of that seriously because Austria is not like that.’ That gave a lot of strength back.”
Still, cyber hate isn’t nice, and if you’re a victim of it, here is what to do:
- reach out to friends and people who support you
- seek help from officials (see links at the end of this article)
- remind yourself that the haters are a small, small minority
- find ways to support yourself, Zadić meditates every day, for example
And if you are witnessing other people receiving cyberhate, don’t look away. Step up for them and offer them support. It’s a small act with a huge impact.
The Strength of Diversity
Having people who support you is so important when you’re confronted with discrimination or dislike. Diversity is one of the greatest assets any group of people can have, but it may be hard to believe that when you’re being hit by a hate wave. For that reason, Zadić is now focusing her energy on creating a more diverse and fair society by giving more young people, more women, and more minorities an opportunity to enter politics.
“Being a representative means representing society,” and that’s not happening when everyone in parliament is a white, old man. To Zadić, young people are absolutely needed in politics as they bring so much power, strength, innovation, and ideas. So if that is something you’re interested in, Zadić suggests joining small organizations & communities.
“A lot of those communities and organizations have some aims to contribute to the change in society and shape how we live together, and this is also a way to meet a lot of people. And meeting people and actively engaging in civil society is definitely the first step to enter politics.”
Think of Fridays for Future or Black Lives Matter. They’re simply communities that have emerged as a response to an important issue. And even though they’re not directly involved in politics, they’ve still helped shape the political discussion.
Alma Zadić’s Multicultural Identity
Another topic that’s been influential for Zadić and her political work is her own background and history as a multicultural world citizen. She was born in Bosnia, migrated to Austria, studied and worked in multiple places including New York, Italy, and the Netherlands. In the beginning, she didn’t know how she should define herself. She wasn’t fully Bosnien and she wasn’t fully Austrian either. It was only when she lived in New York – arguably one of the most multicultural places on earth – that she realized that being a mixture defined her best, and also made her unique. Suddenly, instead of being confusing, her multicultural background became her strength.
“Once you know who you are and what you stand for and what your value is, you can present that in a much stronger way. If you stand behind your ideas, you’ll be a lot stronger.”– Alma Zadić
That’s why Zadić advises:
- seek alliances
- find like-minded people who can support you and whom you can support
- create a network of people who can help reach your goals
Knowing the right kind of people and having communities who support you is invaluable. Following your dreams is difficult, but “you should never give up. No matter how hard it is, eventually, you will make it happen if you keep at it.” And sticking to your dreams is a lot easier if you have people who are there for you. Just don’t give up, Pirate. For like Zadić says:
“I’m sure you’ll be the necessary change for the future”– Alma Zadić
Want to hear more about the life of a politician, the qualities of having a multicultural background, and how to deal with cyberhate? Then watch the whole interview with Alma Zadić below.
If you’re a victim of cyber crime, you can report and get help online here:
- EU: https://www.europol.europa.eu/report-a-crime/report-cybercrime-online
- US: https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/cyber
- Worldwide: https://internationalhatestudies.com/cyber-hate-initiatives-3/
For more talks like this, head over to Moonshot Pirates Talks.