I woke up on Wednesday morning to an ABC update. A woman's body found on the corner of Little Bourke St and Celestial Avenue.
I wanted to throw up.
A woman's body was found in Chinatown in Melbourne on Wednesay morning. Photo: Joe Armao
Any act of violence against a woman, particularly one that results in the death, is sickening, reprehensible - as is the rhetoric that comes with it.
Last year after Eurydice Dixon and Qi Yu were killed, I felt despair. I was scared, I was angry, and eventually, I had to turn off the news, step back from social media and disengage.
What hit me most about the news on Wednesday was how much it felt like a near miss.
I was in that exact part of town with my two best girlfriends from high school on Saturday night. I walked through there with one of my male friends on Monday and again on Tuesday.
But this isn't just about me. That woman represents all women. That could have been any of us and statistically, it might be. Every death is a near miss.
In a country where more than one woman a week is killed at the hands of a current, or former, intimate partner, we're all a walking statistic.
In 2018, 69 women were killed, 16 more than in 2017.
If it's not you one week, it might be you the next. That's absolutely terrifying. But more than that, it isn't good enough.
Every time I see a piece of news detailing violence against women, it fills me with dread and fear. Because, like many other women and non-binary persons, I wonder how I can continue to exist in a world which is rigged against me.
A world where I need to be looking over my shoulder all the time. Where I shouldn't walk home, but I shouldn't catch an Uber (Shebah isn't always available) as that puts me in a confined space with a man.
How do you reconcile living in a world where you can't win?
I shouldn't be out in open public spaces, but I shouldn't be in the home - after all, that's the place I'm statistically most likely to experience violence or be killed.
Be aware of how you dress, make sure you cover up so as not to tempt unsuspecting men - but don't cover up too much, because then they'll be curious and equally as likely to target you to see what you're hiding.
Women and non-binary persons already spend a significant portion of their brain power focused on personal safety.
Why are women and non-binary persons continually hearing judgments around what they should or shouldn't be doing, when these incidents (against men, women and non-binary persons) are overwhelmingly committed by men? Why aren't those same voices telling men not to rape and murder?
How do you reconcile living in a world where you can't win?
I don't have the answer, but I have dedicated the last three years to creating change, to contributing to a world where women can embrace equality and exist to embrace their infinite potential.
It's not easy.
It will take a lot of hard work, and we need our leaders to come with us. We need more action from persons at all levels of society and leadership to create the change we need.
So, no, not all men. But yes, all women. It's got to stop.
We don't want your condolences, your rhetoric or recommendations. We want change.
Ashleigh Streeter-Jones is a gender equality advocate and campaigner. Last year she was listed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list, and was named the youngest ever ACT Woman of the Year.
This article originally appeared on WomensAgenda and The Canberra Times. The original can be viewed here for Womens Agenda, and here for The Canberra Times.
Young women have a unique perspective on the modern world. We’re among the first generation to have grown up with computers and social media. As such, we went through school experiencing horrendous issues such as revenge porn and online trolling.
Our generation is also facing major challenges, such as automation in the work force, unaffordable housing prices, increasing living costs, and an incredibly challenging job market – particularly for entry-level positions.
Despite all these challenges – or perhaps because of them – young women have a lot to contribute. We are more connected and arguably more informed than ever before, because we’ve grown up with the internet at our fingertips. We’re a generation of innovators, looking at things differently and solving problems in unique and wonderful ways.
Yet too often young women’s voices aren’t being valued or heard. We’re rarely given space at decision-making tables or allowed access to power structures and important conversations that shape our lives. And we’re largely absent from public platforms, such as the Australian media – where women make up just 20 per cent of news commentators.
Moreover, when young women like myself are invited to share our stories or contribute to public discourse, we are rarely paid. Rather, we’re expected to see it as a great opportunity to build our experience and profile. While often true, the problem is that this can add up to a lot of unpaid work, with no one giving us the break that we need.
[Young women] are rarely given space at decision-making tables or allowed access to...important conversations that shape our lives.
Women have always been expected to do the bulk of unpaid work. The last national census (2016) showed that we still do almost triple the amount of unpaid work than that done by our male counterparts. Why? Because sexist attitudes still prevail in our society. In a 2017 Plan International Australia survey of girls aged 10 to 17, 98 per cent said they were not treated equally to boys, while 91 per cent felt it would be easier to get ahead if they were treated the same way as boys.
Young and older women alike are facing similar challenges due to sexist attitudes – whether it’s street harassment, or being judged on our appearance. However, young women are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to attracting attention to our causes or contributions.
Young women – like older women – don’t have a homogenous voice. Our experiences are diverse and so is the value we can add. What’s more, when tackling issues that directly relate to us, it’s a no-brainer to ask us what we think before making critical policy decisions.
To achieve gender equality, young women must be heard and our efforts must be genuinely valued. Older women can play a vital role in giving us space and elevating our voices.
We’re incredibly fortunate to stand on the shoulders of our mothers and grandmothers who fought extremely repressive attitudes towards women and our place in society.
Together, I believe we can create a world that is truly equal.
This article originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, the original can be viewed here.