Page 755 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 21 March 2017

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A young Aboriginal woman at the school expressed that, despite her initial reluctance, her privilege within her community put her in a position to lead that she could not ignore. Another student remarked on her role mentoring her younger peers. The young women discussed the desire and need to set standards for their communities, which really embodied this year’s theme: be bold for change. The girls also suggested that support from women’s groups has helped them to grow into strong leaders.

For these young women, being a woman increases the reward of their achievements. When they can accomplish something that others did not expect to, when they can surprise people and defy expectations, they feel stronger and more capable than if they were just to meet the standard.

Later in the evening on International Women’s Day I joined the Heydon District Girl Guides group which incidentally was the Girl Guides group I once attended. So it was personally very significant for me and a great opportunity to reflect on what I had learned in my time with the guides and to lend support to other young women seeking to serve the public. We spoke about women as leaders, how to be a leader and smashing the glass ceiling. We also talked about identifying women leaders in our community and not just in magazines. Funnily enough, we also had a good chat about women in the Legislative Assembly. All these young women are leaders in their communities, but they face challenges due to their gender. These challenges differ between individuals and across cultures; so our solutions must be versatile.

Nearly 20 per cent of women in the ACT live with a disability; 3,400 women in the ACT are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Of the women living in the ACT, 12 per cent were born overseas and nine per cent speak a language other than English. Yerrabi is a diverse electorate and our women are no exception. The women who call Yerrabi home have a diverse range of careers, ages, cultures and languages, all bringing together a cross-section of the community not seen in other parts of Canberra. As a member for Yerrabi, our diversity is one of the reasons I am proud to represent our wonderful community.

As Minister Berry touched on, the ACT government recently conducted consultation on increasing women’s participation in sport. Since women identified how sports infrastructure in Gungahlin deters them from participating, the government has been able to investigate solutions. Simple things such as poor lighting and bathroom facilities are some of the ways in which women are discouraged from using sports venues. But these issues cannot be resolved unless they are sought out.

Listening to our community is integral to being able to serve them and alleviate inequality. When government actively breaks down barriers to women’s contribution to our community, we and our community can truly thrive. The ACT women’s plan is a long-term plan to address many of the issues faced by women in Yerrabi and across the ACT. Equity and wellbeing and physical and mental health are well-identified priorities for women in the ACT.

This year’s International Women’s Day has been about all people taking initiatives to become role models for gender equality in their communities. I have met with young

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