I trust that the recent warmer weather and decreasing numbers of coronavirus infections are lifting spirits everywhere, particularly in Melbourne.
I confess my spirits took a rare dive with news of the recent passing of the brilliant U.S Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and the subsequent loss of two wonderful trailblazing Australian feminists in The Hon. Susan Ryan AO, the first woman to be appointed to cabinet and Grammy Award winning activist Helen Reddy. We owe a debt of gratitude to each of these extraordinary women for using their voices and talents in support of women everywhere and for their broad ranging achievements towards greater gender equality. I can clearly recall the power of ‘I am Woman’ and the galvanising effect it had on my mother and so many others of her generation who were then largely invisible in the corridors of power and absent at the table where many decisions affecting them were made – it still has a spine-tingling effect today.
The legacy of these three outstanding role models provides much to be celebrated. Each woman’s story reminds us that gender equality is a long game and requires sustained action on all fronts, in the judiciary, in our parliament and in pop culture, indeed in all facets of life.
Their example amplifies the importance of the 2020 theme for the United Nations International Day of the Girl this Sunday, October 11, My Voice, Our Equal Future. Each was a pioneer raising her voice in support of fairness and respect for women, taking action to ensure a more gender-equal future.
Please read on, be inspired by past and present role models, register for events that will inform and inspire you. If you’ve not already seen it, I encourage you to watch the RBG documentary on ABC iview, and follow it up with I Am Woman on Stan, and read some of the wonderful tributes to Susan Ryan published in the past couple of weeks. Take to social media and share messages to celebrate the International Day of the Girl, grab a gorgeous scarf from MECCA and support their fabulous education initiatives for girls locally and globally, ask a girl or young woman in your life what matters to her most – and be sure she knows you’ve heard her. Each of us can take action, however large or small to ensure that this and the next generation of girls share in a more equal future – the world will be all the better for it!
We know it’s critical for women’s voices to be heard and for their particular needs and circumstances to be seen and addressed. We’ve seen what happens when decisions are made in their absence – dare we mention half-hour hairdressing appointments! We sincerely hope that tonight’s Federal Budget responds to the voices of the many women, and men, who have been calling for a gender lens on government policy and funding decisions. The budget needs to ensure that women, who are widely acknowledged to have been disproportionately affected by the impact of COVID-19, are at the centre of policy responses, budget stimulus and recovery initiatives.
Stay well and hopeful!
Australian Women Donors Network