Women to Watch: Zoya Patel | HerCanberra

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Women to Watch: Zoya Patel

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“I love creating a space where we explore gender through the important lens of personal stories and creativity.”

Zoya Patel has some interesting goals for 2015, including finishing the last subject in her Masters, writing the rest of her Memoir and building her stable of writers at Feminartsy—the online literature and arts journal that she founded in 2014. Given she also works full-time as the Communications and Advocacy Officer at the YWCA in Canberra, it’s going to be busy.


In 2013, Zoya was trolled by some men’s rights activists who accused her of being a ‘feminartsy’. Someone they described as ‘…a hip-hop-happening modern gal who eats out a lot. She’s in the seventh year of a three-year Creative Writing degree and really hoping to finish any year now. Her career goals include enjoying totally unreal hobbies and maybe getting a job one day doing something arty – and fun’.

Rather than being offended, Zoya thought this girl sounded kind of cool, and decided to re-appropriate the name for a space that celebrates the quirky, arty feminist types rather than denigrating them, and Feminartsy was born.

“I love creating a space where we explore gender through the important lens of personal stories and creativity,” Zoya explains. “I’m proud of having taken the plunge by leaving Lip” (where she was editor-in-chief) and founding Feminartsy—and seeing it evolve and grow over the past six months.”

Asked her advice to her sixteen-year-old self, she says, “Actually, you can do it! no matter how often you think you can’t, sometimes you just knuckle down and do it.” It’s advice she applies now while juggling her Communications career, study, her writing, editing and numerous projects with her musician partner, Chris, their cat, and her relationships and friends.

What Zoya loves about Canberra is “the supportive, collaborative arts community here. There’s always an exciting project to get involved with!” She’s also very proud of the Canberra communications scene. “I think we punch above our weight in independent publishing. With journals like Grapple, and organisations like Rip Publishing, Feminartsy, Scissors, Paper and Pen—we do all right!”

Zoya has a passion for horse-riding, and rides twice a week. “I love going to my horse-riding school, smelling the delicious horse smell, and being away from the city for a bit. I love learning a skill that has nothing to do with writing or reading, and is really about communication between me and the horse.”

The stress release of riding is accompanied by a passion for Harry Potter, running, going to the gym and ‘stress baking’. And we don’t doubt Zoya needs it! With full-time work, Feminartsy, the You Are Here festival, Rip publishing projects, her memoir, the masters degree and the novella she’s exiting for Seizure, there’s not much spare time. Although something tells us that’s just the way she likes it, and that her sixteen-year-old self would be proud.

Discover the rest of our 15 Women to Watch in 2015 here.

Read about Nellie PeoplesMeegan Fitzharris, Tegan McAuleyBelinda NeameLouisa de SmetHeidi StratfordDr Sudha RaoCarla & Emma PapasTara CheyneSally MoylanKylie TraversKaleidJulie OkelyMichelle Melbourne and Joanna Allebone.

Home page image by Lori Cicchini of Loriana Fotografia . Make up by Ali Price Makeup. Hair by Angela Pavlovic of Kosa Studio. Clothing from Canberra Centre.

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