Gender Equality – A story of hope, optimism and perseverance

Emotion is contagious

That’s why people generally prefer to be around other people who are happy, joyful, energetic and optimistic. Most people prefer to experience fun and celebration. Bad news is depressing, and there’s more than enough of it going around these days, so a lot of people choose to switch off or tune out to it.

At Femeconomy, we have noticed that it is the happy stories, the uplifting or funny stories we post that really resonate with people, and that they enjoy sharing. Just quietly, the popularity of funny cat videos supports this conclusion.

So I must admit I didn’t know how to approach this story, the one I had to write, in a way that respected how serious the subject matter is to me and to others who campaign for it, in a way that did not come across as negative or complaining or whining or a wee bit angry.

What sets us apart as humans? One of the main things is hope

Our hope in the face of all obstacles, that we can overcome, that we will prevail. It’s such a remarkable and relatable human trait that we continue to write books, songs, make movies, art and theatre in celebration of the power of hope. It’s our not so secret superpower, available in the innate wellspring of humankind.

So how to respond to the crushing disappointment that overtook me when I read that gender equality is now 170 years away, and that Australia’s rank on the global gender equality index had backslid again, a further ten places to 46th in the world?

I feel despondent that in Australia, in 2016, women’s contribution is valued as lesser

I didn’t say it isn’t valued, but it is not valued the same way a man’s is. Evidence abounds: gender pay gap, superannuation gap, rates of men’s violence towards women, workplace sexual harassment and gender discrimination and our society placing low value on caring responsibilities. It’s easy to get stuck on the negatives.

But dwelling on these points doesn’t take us forward, and it doesn’t activate progress.

For a while I had this mental playlist on repeat and it was dredging up some pretty negative emotions in me. Rage, sadness, disbelief, a tiny bit of despair. But after a week of reflection, my reaction to this news has solidified into a concrete super structure of determination, reinforced with a steel will that we will see an acceleration of progress towards gender equality in my lifetime. See! Here comes the hope. It’s important that people understand the facts around gender equality, as a case for positive action that that is happening everywhere at the moment.

In workplaces, in the community, in the media people are speaking up for gender equality

People are taking action to improve. To say that gender equality is topical at the moment is a laughable understatement. Each day when I search the internet, there are new articles, new voices raised in chorus ‘for’ and ‘against’. The positive in this is the support, the collaboration, the lifting up of others, often met only online, who are on this same quest. This speaks to the best in us, to an entire global movement who are galvanised in thought and action, united in hope and optimism, to create a better world for future generations. A world where the innate potential in all of us is recognised, unlocked and equally valued.

Am I an idealist, a dreamer to think this way? Probably, but you see I have hope.

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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.