Be a Voice for Gender Equality
By Maya Berg
School Captain, Year 12, 2018
The following is from an address that Maya presented to the Senior School students at a School Assembly on 21 August 2018:
Right now want to share with you an experience that I had recently.
I was sitting on the bus on the way home from school. Some people behind me were talking about a girl in our Year group and were calling her some pretty derogatory names. I was a bit nervous to speak out but finally worked up the courage to ask them directly, "please don’t call her that. I know her and I know that she is not like that.” They replied, “it’s a joke”.
That was one incident.
And then another - a little different, but I was beginning to see a theme ...
I read an article about two women who had recently started a new tech business. Because they were women in a dominated male field they felt that they weren’t being taken seriously. These two women established a fake male co-worker, designed to help them be taken seriously while trying to get their business off the ground. Sadly, the business partners said that this worked!
I am sharing this with you, so we can act.
This happens in many aspects of life. The median full-time working woman in Australia earns 87 cents to every dollar earned by a male. Around the world, 1 in 3 women will experience violence in their lifetime. Even now, in Australia, one woman dies every week at the hands of her partner or ex partner.
This is obviously the extreme end point but it is true and it is outrageous.
We can avoid the end point by addressing the starting point. Society has come so far already because people have been changing their attitudes. But there are still things that need to shift.
To do this, when you see everyday gender inequality you have to call it out. Use your voice stop it. Men and women equally. Call out the everyday sly comments. Don’t go along when people around you are making sexist jokes. Treat everyone with the upmost dignity.
Be vigilant in your own workplace.
If we all see the inherent dignity in humanity, in all humans, male and female, we can work towards equality. We can all be supportive of females, just as we are of males, and work towards gender equality.
Everyone in this room has their own voice.
... And that why I am using my voice here today.