I was asked to write a few words for International Women’s Day by the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women. For those interested the task was to write 300 words or less on what issue you want to draw attention to on International Women’s Day 2021, and one way to address it.
You might like to try the same task today (and maybe share too). This is what I had to say.
[The image above is of the mural on the wall of the IGA store in Newtown. I just love those women’s faces smiling at me when I pass by]
Education underpins everything. It shapes us as people and the society we live in. Women still fight to be treated equally by our education systems. We fight to have our issues, history, educational needs and aspirations given equal respect and attention. The fight for equal representation in leadership roles continues unabated.
So on this International Women’s Day I want to say it is important to never take for granted what is happening in our education systems or ignore what is being taught there.
In Australia, public schools are being residualised, while a large, and ever growing, cohort of rich, publicly funded, private schools is normalised. We should all be angry and alarmed that our public schools are being neglected by our governments and aware of what that means for girls – who go on to bear the brunt of our casualised, gendered workforce. And we also need to be aware of the values that are being taught in private schools because many of the socially advantaged children enrolled in these schools, especially males, go on to leadership positions within governments, business and industry.
A few talks by invited guests about consent and respect is not enough, a program here and there to help keep disadvantaged girls in school is not enough. We need and deserve education in Australia where women’s voices are embedded in every subject being taught, where respect is bedrock, where all girls get support to continue with their education, and leadership responsibility is taken for the teaching of values and attitudes, particularly in the private school sector. And we should keep loudly calling out the schools, systems and school leadership where women are not being heard.