Joining the global movement, Canberrans united to show their support for equal opportunity, safety and a better world.
These movements are particularly important for young people. Not only are we more connected today than ever before, but these actions allow us to shape the world we want to live in, a world we want to feel safe in.
Dhani Gilbert, our Young Canberra Citizen of the Year and ACT NAIDOC Youth of the Year 2018, spoke with passion and conviction as a young, proud First Nations woman
“I ask that in our fearless pursuit of a safer and more inclusive community we do not turn a blind eye to the fact that historic and contemporary structural inequalities remain an intertwined part of First Nations Women’s experiences; of poorer outcomes and the unacceptably high rates in which we are impacted by violence.
I cannot accept that it should be a continuing reality that, here in Canberra, young First Nations women are more likely to be impacted by poverty and violence than obtain a tertiary entrance score to access University.
As a community, we have the power to change this, through cultural and structural changes that end the acceptance of violence, racism and the injustice of inequality.”
Clare Moore, CEO of Women with Disabilities ACT, shared their experience of speaking at the event.
“I spoke at the march because I wanted to draw attention to the way social isolation maintains a cycle of invisible abuse against women, girls, non-binary and feminine identifying people with disability. The statistics included in my speech were confronting and many people told me afterwards that they were brought near to tears by them – to them I say, you can take action to change this story. You can start by joining disability advocates in calling for a Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect of people with disabilities and you can follow that by making personal and organisational commitments to greater inclusion every day.”
Tanvi Nangrani from Young Women Speak Out told us why she marches:
“Last year, Young Women Speak Out attended the Legislative Assembly and presented our reasoning on why the legal definition of consent in the ACT should be changed to positive consent. Affirmative consent is positive visual and verbal cues that indicate both parties agree to what is taking place.
If I want young women’s voices to be heard, I can’t just wait around for someone else to speak on my behalf. I am going to share my perspective, raise my voice, be that at the Legislative Assembly, parliament or at Garema Place. I march because I want to see progress.”
The experiences of Dhani, Clare and Tanvi highlight the complex, multi-dimensional structure of inequality. And this is why we march.
We march to call for a better world for everyone: for First Nations people, persons with a disability, persons who identify as non-binary/intersex or trans, people who are culturally and linguistically diverse, persons from migrant or refugee backgrounds, persons from our LGBTQI community. We need a better world for all.
We cannot move forward if any group is left behind; as we stand, too many people are being left behind.
As young people, we can be the trailblazers. We can both raise and use our voices to call for that better standard. We can challenge the status quo and examine new ways to do things.
The Women’s Wave is just the beginning. We’re unstoppable when we move forward together.
This article originally appeared on HerCanberra, the original can be viewed here.
Have you ever been told you're a fat bitch? Been told to kill yourself? What about receiving a rape threat from a total stranger — or worse — just for doing your job?
This is just a taste of the hateful comments levelled at the young women who campaigned with Plan International Australia on the Girls Take Over Parliament in 2017 — a great way to get more young women into Parliament, and eventually to improve the gender gap.
"Your [sic] gonna ruin everything you stupid c**t get in the kitchen where you belong."
"Any bitch tries to tell me what to do I'll just hit them now f**k off slut."
Before long, we were told to increase our privacy settings and change our names on our social media profiles, for our own safety.
The vitriol, death threats, rape threats and worse were pouring in. All because we dared provide an opportunity to level the playing field young women.
While I eventually changed my name back (mostly due to the confusion of my Facebook friends!), it made me think seriously about my online presence, my personal security and my future as an advocate.
I'm far from alone
If you ask any women with a high-profile public presence, particularly any who advocate for gender equality, chances are they'll have a similar story to tell.
Activists exist in a dangerous space, particularly those who are female. To create the change we want to see, we need to be in the public eye, which today means being on social media, as well as more traditional public platforms.
But the more we do so, the more we receive backlash and threats designed to frighten us — designed to keep us silent.
It's not just women. Organisations are increasingly stepping into the role of activists.
Last week, we saw the release of Gillette's controversial advertisement "The Best Men Can Be".
Watching it, I felt relieved and exhilarated.
It was such a relief to see a company — one owned by Proctor and Gamble, which has an enormous amount of capital, power and influence — standing up in the era of #MeToo and encouraging men to be better. Better for themselves, as well as for girls and women. They reinforced a message that I've been communicating as an activist for years.
YOUTUBE: Gillette's The Best Men Can Be advertisement
The Gillette advertisement saw so. Much. Backlash. Around the world, men — and a few women — were outraged at the idea that men can and should be better. Forget the fact that the gender norms the ad was challenging are harmful for men — that they contribute to the high rates of male depression and suicide.
But whatever the backlash Gillette received, it pales against the vitriol hurled at female activists passionate about gender equality, which is much nastier, more aggressive and gender-based.
Before I began this article, I had a look back at my Twitter feed and articles I'd had published on equality. Scrolling through the comments, I felt sick.
Take this charming example: "If you don't shut your mouth, I'll shut it for you."
It happens to so many others in my networks as well. At least once a week I get asked to support a friend who's been attacked in some way, shape or form by a man. Engaging with a troll is exhausting, requires substantive emotional labour and never results in productive conversation.
The high-profile feminist writer Clementine Ford is plagued by trolls. She even posted one particularly disturbing email she received from a man — it was full of graphic insults, ending with a horrific explanation of how she should kill herself.
Equality is worth fighting forThe fact is, both men and women need gender equality.
There is no country which has seen the gender gap eliminated, which has eradicated gender-based violence or which has achieved gender equality for all (not just white women!) in their population.
A lot of the change that needs to happen relies on men stepping up and doing their bit. And gender equality activists are going to keep calling for it, because we all don't deserve anything less.
Organisations can also help. We need them to help amplify our voices and set a moral standard. I'm part of a generation that cares passionately about social issues and I make my consumer choices based on organisations which share my values.
To my fellow advocates, thank you and stay strong. I'm sorry you have to put up with this — I'm right there with you, campaigning, advocating and blocking the trolls.
And to the trolls, you can fill us with dread and fear. You can hurl sexist attacks at our appearance, our opinions and our mission. But to that I say, thank you. Thank you for reinforcing our mission — for making the prevalence of dangerous sexist attitudes and need for gender equality so clear. Thank you for reminding us that we deserve better. And maybe watch that Gillette ad again, you might learn something.
Ashleigh Streeter is a youth activist at Plan International Australia.