Finalist 2016: Ella McAlister, QLD
Name: Ella McAlister
Community, State: Boonah, QLD
School: Boonah State High School
Age: 16, Grade 11
Why is gender equality important to you and your community?
The question should not be why is gender equality important to me and my community, rather why do we, as humans, have to worry about gender equality in the first place? Why does society continue to have a self-depreciating mindset about women and what they are capable of?
As a young woman I see positive role models in a myriad of empowering women who stand against the oppressive mindset that ‘women are less than men’. Women such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Hillary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai are women who have spoken out for women around the world, young women like me. These women were the heroines of their own story. As a young rural woman I take my inspiration from women who make changes in the world. I personally have strong female role models in some of my teachers who empower and inspire us to believe that we can accomplish anything. These positive role models are so important to keep in our rural schools.
In my community there are many gender inequality issues that I see as a young person. At the age of 13 young women start to believe that their social status at school, and how they are perceived, determines who they can be. In a small town where access is limited, perceptions and opinions are valued. There is still the mentality that obtaining a boyfriend is vital. The mindset in our small country town is still that women will marry someone from the town, have kids in that town and raise their family there. Thus a man’s opinion of her will determine her future husband, and ultimately financial state for the rest of her life.
The second issue is vitally important to me. Gender discrimination and the gender pay gap I believe can perpetuate discrimination. Figures only in the news today reinforce that still in 2016 women are on average paid less than men. Women are continuing to contribute in today’s economy whilst still shouldering the bulk of the childcare responsibilities of a family. Women still, in 2016, are paid less and experience workplace discrimination. Women now more than ever, need to be valued as equals. Like the female role models I mentioned earlier, I want to be a facilitator of change to ensure that gender equality truly reflects the society we live in rather than predetermined ideals.