While we bid goodbye to our first female PM, let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture where schoolgirls fight greater forces to have their feminist aspirations heard, Afghani women continue their struggle to access basic education, and Arianna Huffington reminds us all that success and health go hand-in-hand.
1. Goodbye Gillard
Love her or hate her, Julia Gillard was our first female Prime Minister and, as such, a role model for many young women striving to enter politics. No matter how we each felt about her carbon tax reforms, the national royal commission she pushed to investigate flaws in institutional responses to child sex abuse, her government’s introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme or the Gonski school funding reform, we should reflect on the fact that that her time as our PM was a turning point in history for women in Australian politics. For a brief timeline of Gillard’s time in office have a read of this ABC article.
High school can be tough, and kids can be cruel. It is a time in our lives when we are discovering who we are and where we belong in the world, and every parent prays that the institution they have trusted with their child’s education will support them and help them grow into intelligent and independent young adults. However, more often than not, they drop the ball and students are left wondering what they did wrong. Jinan Younis is one of those students. Having become aware of social injustices she and her fellow female students face, Younis started a feminist club at her school to create a safe space for girls to discuss their roles as women. In the face of intense backlash from young men online Younis’ school dropped support for her club, revealing one of the root causes of young feminists’ problems; Institutions and schools are more likely to end support for a good cause if it goes against the norm, than to assist young women in their fight for equality. Read more about Younis’ brave student movement here.
There has been a lot of talk this week of the Taliban’s attempts to enter diplomatic talks with the USA. As eyes turn to Afghanistan we came across an article in the Guardian making interesting correlations between women’s education and the wellbeing of families and communities as a whole. An educated woman is more likely to marry later, give birth under the supervision of a qualified practitioner, ensure that her children are well nourished, as well as educated and vaccinated, and she is less likely to allow child labour practices to occur in her community. However, donors are reluctant to make female education one of their key priorities, despite clear links between female literacy and positive community development. If you’re interested in learning more about the female literacy rate in Afghanistan and how it impacts the whole country check out the article here, and then make sure to donate to the UN Women’s 2013 Tax Appeal, benefiting women and children in Afghanistan.
How do you define success? I, like most people I know, am likely to link the word ‘success’ with concepts of wealth and power. Arianna Huffington, on the other hand is likely to respond to questions of success with “well-being, wisdom, an ability to wonder, and to give back.” Inspired yet? She goes on to point out that traditional definitions of success don’t work for anyone and tend to lead to stress, sleeplessness and health issues. Michelle Wright, the founder of Cause4, a social enterprise working for charities and philanthropic programs, found Huffington’s speech relevant and inspirational in the development of her own business ideas. Check out Wright’s article on how Huffington’s speech changed her business outlook here, and pick up a few good ideas on time management and taking care of your health while you’re at it!
Setting a goal to empower a billion women by 2020 sounds like a global effort. However, this is actually the personal target set by Ingrid Vanderveldt, Dell’s first Entrepreneur in Residence and the owner of Ingrid Vanderveldt LLC. Vandervelt uses tools, technology and resources to empower aspiring female entrepreneurs and recently established Dell’s Innovative Credit Fund, granted to business start-ups to enable them to access the financial and technological support they need to get off the ground. Read up on Vandervelt’s career and how she plans to empower as many women as possible by 2020 here.