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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 October 2017) . . Page.. 4267 ..


Motion (by Mr Gentleman) proposed:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

Plan Australia #GirlsTakeover

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (4.53): “Children are our future” is a phrase we often hear, to the point of cliché. The truth of this statement is fairly self-evident. But almost equally as often we hear that youth is too indifferent, particularly when it comes to the realm of politics. This thought is contentious at best.

Throughout October this year, more than 600 young women will take—and have been taking—over positions of leadership in 60 organisations across the globe. Hosted by Plan International, this #GirlsTakeover movement opens up the doorway of potential not only for the young women taking part but also for the institutions which have taken them on board.

International Day of the Girl was on 11 October. The ACT Legislative Assembly celebrated by welcoming six young women into our offices whose passions ranged from politics and sports to media, art and beyond. But their diverse range of interests are founded strongly on common ground: a passion for the rights of women and girls, and for gender equality.

The young woman who took over my office, Linda, leads what she describes as a largely normal existence. She was born and raised in Canberra. She spends most of her days studying at the ANU and has a fondness for writing, Mexican food and this year’s Bachelorette. Hey, who doesn’t? But the idea of politics or serving as a politician was something that had always given her hives. It had always seemed either too exhausting or perhaps out of reach for her, a career path that was both intimidating and frustrating in equal measure.

It seems that these views are not uncommon amongst young women across Australia when it comes to their dreams and ambitions. In a report released by Plan International Australia, 40 per cent of girls said that they feel that gender is the greatest barrier to becoming a leader.

So why did Linda sign up to take over our parliament? The short answer to that is because she cared. Like the rest of the women who chose to take over an MLA position, she wanted to represent young women across Canberra and beyond—to bring to light their issues, to amplify their voices and to show that, even though she had never previously considered a political career for herself, young people possess the skills, smarts and passion for public service and politics.

The voice of youth, especially of young people below the voting age, can often be overlooked in the political sphere. But they are engaged and they do care about the work that we do here. Initiatives like the International Day of the Girl and the

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