Finalist 2016: Abby Garratt, WA

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Name: Abby Garratt

Community, State: Manjimup, WA

School: Kearnan College

Age: 16, Grade 11

Why is gender equality important to you and your community?

In a speech marking International Women’s Day, Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, Emma Watson, said “our society in general devalues the ‘she’… the qualities that are associated with the feminine found in all of us. This imbalance, this distortion is hindering our progress; it’s causing discord, violence and fear the world over.” Watson, a prominent figure in the gender equality movement, frequently encourages men and women alike to join her, reminding us all that gender equality is, and always will be, relevant.

Gender equality matters to me personally, because I do not believe in restrictive gender roles. Gender is a human construct. While many argue gender equality by saying fifty percent of earth’s population is female, I say one hundred percent of its population is human, and that alone should be enough. It is right that I should be paid the same as a male co-worker, not be limited in school due to my gender and given the same respect any male would be. Gender equality is important to me because I know my worth is no less than that of my male peers and I expect that fact to be acknowledged. I do not appreciate society’s devaluation of female life.

In my community, as it should be in any other, gender equality matters. It frees women from prejudice and restrictions; which allows all people to benefit from their talent and experience and helps the community function as a whole. It also ensures the most suitable person for any particular role is not overlooked due to their gender, meaning positions are awarded to those who deserve it most. Gender equality is important in my community as it allows men the ability to show emotion and vulnerability. Dismantling frigid ideals of masculinity is just as important as subverting negative expectations set on women, as these result in father’s roles being valued less than mother’s, men being embarrassed to seek help for mental illness, in fear it will make them less of a man, and being made fragile and insecure by society’s impossible standards for male success.

Gender equality is important because, in the words of Emma Watson, “both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. If we stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be free.”