I’ve gave a keynote speech at the Good Shepherd Microfinance State Forum in NSW on 31st October. I talked about determination, audacity and compassion as well as sharing some snippets about what I care about, why I care about it and events that have helped shape me. I’m sharing an extract of that keynote because I want all Australians to take action to create a kinder, more compassionate, inclusive Australia. Especially for women, because you know what? Australia can be a tough place to be a woman. This article will show 12 reasons why it’s tough (in fact beyond tough!)
But each one of us can make a difference. We can do this by being deliberately, purposefully and mindfully inclusive, kind, compassionate and just a little bit audacious!
I Love the Word Audacious
I am determined to continue to be audacious in pursuit of positive outcomes for women, and their families in Australia. Audacious is one of the values of Good Shepherd Microfinance where I am a board member. We are an organisation that is determined to enable economic wellbeing for people on low incomes, especially women and girls. We’re an organisation that has to be determined, audacious and compassionate, every single day.
I am willing to take ‘surprisingly bold risks’ when it comes to advancing women in Australia and I want you to join me in being audacious.
We live in a wealthy, developed country with abundant riches which has had positive economic outcomes for more than 2 decades, bucking global trends. Yet, outcomes for women in Australia across many measures simply do not stack up positively in comparison.
Let me elaborate:
- 86% of Australian companies who report to WGEA are chaired by men.
- 83% of Australian companies have a male CEO.
- Nearly three-quarters of reporting organisations have a male-only team of key management personnel.
- There is a 14.5% gender pay gap (nearly 32% in sport!)
- Australia has had only one female prime minister (as compared to NZ which has had 3) and 70% of the federal lower house MPs are male with 60% of Senators in the upper house male.
Australia has an alarmingly poor record when it comes to violence against women. On average:
- One woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.
- 1 in 3 Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15
- 1 in 5 Australian women has experienced sexual violence.
- 1 in 6 Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by current or former partner.
- 1 in 4 Australian women has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.
- Australian women are nearly three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner.
- Australian women are almost four times more likely than men to be hospitalised after being assaulted by their spouse or partner.
Source: Our Watch
I’m still shocked, saddened and outraged every time I read those statistics. But what sits behind those statistics are women and their families. Which is why I consider it so important to highlight the work that Good Shepherd Microfinance and Good Shepherd ANZ do to improve outcomes for women and their families in Australia.
Gender equality and a world where women are equal, safe, respected and treated with compassion is my life’s mission and I am determined, just like the audacious Sisters of Good Shepherd were, to contribute to achieving a gender equal world.
Speaking of Determination…
My Mother gave a speech at my 50th birthday, which perhaps sums me up pretty well. She said that I am – and have always been – ‘relentlessly determined’ and then went on to tell the story of how I came into the world: 50 + years ago, Perth was in darkness due to a power outage. Despite this less than ideal situation, I was a baby determined to be born! As a result of that determination, I was born by candlelight at St Anne’s hospital in Perth, a somewhat audacious act according to my poor first time parents.
My Dad put a notice in the Perth papers, so at the grand of age of 2 days old, I was featured on the front page of the Daily News with the headline “Born by Candlelight”. I am sure my parents could not have guessed that this first defiant, determined and audacious act would shape and inform the way that I live my life from then on.
I know that I am irritatingly determined and have been since I was a kid. From my earliest memories I have wanted to stand up for people and things that I believe in and I make it my business to roll up my sleeves in support of causes where I have felt leadership was lacking. My urgent sense of duty to change things for the better has not waned, in fact its call has become stronger and louder over my lifetime. My desire for an equal inclusive world was a flickering flame which has turned into a roaring bushfire and shows no sign of abating. I can’t sit back and hope, because hope is not a strategy, particularly when it comes to changing outcomes for all women and girls.
Like so many of us, I am determined that my time on earth will matter. It takes, and will continue to take determination, audacity and compassion to fight for a world where women and girls are considered equal and celebrated.
If It’s to Be, It’s Up to Me!
I recall hearing AFL footy great Ron Barrassi speak about 15 years ago. I was literally 10 feet away from this footy legend when he said something that made me sit up straight. Ron said “If its to be it’s up to me” which hit home and made me realise that I could make a difference, to anything.
If it’s to be, it’s up to me are words that galvanise me into action time and time again when it comes to gender equality and achieving better outcomes for women and their families. Because I know that every act, small or large can make a difference to a woman, her family and to those that need it most.
A Question and a Challenge
Here is a question and a challenge for all of us. I wonder what Australia would look like if all Australians took Ron’s advice? What if Australians were deliberate and purposeful (& a little bit audacious) about compassion and kindness?
Put another way, there are approximately 15 million adults in Australia. Imagine that every single one of those adults made one deliberate act of kindness, compassion and inclusion every month?
That would be 180M acts of kindness, compassion and inclusion every year. I KNOW that Australia would look and feel like a different country! If you’re up to that challenge, well so am I. Because it is up to all of us to step in and step up to this challenge.
I live my life in a deliberately determined and purposeful way. I am determined to contribute to achieving global gender equality, in my life time, and I am audacious enough in mind and spirit to imagine that world. I love being a part of the Good Shepherd family and I value the outcomes we are all creating for women and their families across Australia. But now is not the time stop. There is much more to be done. So lets do it, together!
This article was originally published by Advancing Women, and authored by Michelle Redfern
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