I am currently studying for a combined degree of arts/commerce at university, with particular interest in the international relations course I am studying under arts. International relations has provided me with deep insight in how our views about the world are shaped and influenced by differing factors, such as propaganda and politics.
I was born and raised in Australia, so I feel as if I have lived (and continue to live) in a very privileged society, where steps to gender equality and empowering young women are becoming more dominant in society. I was very lucky to go to a school where the informal motto was “women can do anything”, and I think that it is important to remember and continue to encourage young women to take a stand and strive for their dreams – without anyone hindering their aspirations.
I have a particular interest in human rights, and the issue of sovereignty and its implications on the supernational level. To be able to write about these topics freely is an important way of educating and making known to people around the world the issues that need to be known.
What exactly is gender equality?
Is it simply the equal rights of men and women in the work force? Or is it just the changing perception of women to be more dominant in society?
I believe gender equality digs deeper than those questions posed above. Take feminism for example. It is stereotyped as women being defensive about the ‘normal’ characteristics of being a female, i.e. a housewife, mother, etc. However, on a global community basis, feminism actually questions the role gender plays in global politics.
Within Australia, opinions about Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership are arguably shaped partly by her gender. Throughout media, her fashion sense to her poise is scrutinised heavily, compared to past male prime ministers. One might ask how this matters to her role as PM. Another concern is whether she is being criticised more than if she were a man.
Women are viewed, historically and socially, as a nurturing and empathetic body, so in order to break free from this stereotype, women have had to ‘masculinise’ their composure. Studies have shown that in times of crisis, women are more headstrong and critical than males due to their defiant role within a changed persona. Should women have to change their feministic quality just to ensure a job at the top?
Growing up in Australia in the past twenty years, [I have noticed] women are featuring more in top leadership positions such as those like Gail Kelly (CEO of Westpac) and Quentin-Bryce (Australian Governor General). There have been steps in ensuring female equality such as paid maternity leave and sexual harassment laws.
However, there is still that inequality between males and females that prohibits them to be taken more seriously. Society needs to break free from gender roles that have existed since the English colonisation in Australia, and society needs to take a step forward in changing common perceptions.