Finalist 2016: Hannah Box, VIC
Name: Hannah Box
Community, State: Leongatha, VIC
School: Leongatha Secondary College
Age: 16, Grade 10
Why is gender equality important to you and your community?
Growing up in a rural community in South Gippsland, the idea of gender equality is extremely important to me and the way I perceive my community. Firstly, it is essential that both girls and boys, men and women, feel they have the same opportunities, and don’t have limitations placed on what they can achieve. Furthermore, it is vital that women feel they are not undervalued in their community and are not judged based on their gender. Gender equality is essential; therefore, I feel very passionately about it.
When people hear the phrase ‘gender equality’ they often just think of girls, or women. Although there is a very serious problem with inequality among girls and women, it is important not to forget the restrictions placed upon everyone. Last year, in year nine, the girls sat through a two hour make-up application lesson, whilst the boys attended a football clinic with the Melbourne Football Club. This is clearly gender discrimination and needs to be challenged. It should never be assumed that all girls want to learn about make-up, and all boys want to play football. I challenged this activity with a letter to my year level coordinator who informed me the program would continue as a voluntary one for both genders. The action I chose to take represents how important gender equality is to me, and how important it is to appreciate everyone’s individual choices.
Living in a small town, it is tremendously important to respect and value women for all the roles they take on. Whether that be at home or at work. Women, especially in sport, are undervalued in my community. They are not given the recognition they deserve and are constantly overlooked. This is evident just by looking in the local paper. This week, there were ten pages dedicated to the local football finals, a male dominated sport, and only one given to the netball finals, a female dominated sport. This kind of inequality is what needs to be corrected, and women, that are often the backbone of sports clubs, need to be given the acknowledgement they deserve.
Ultimately, gender equality is not just about females, but about everyone. To me, it is about recognising everyone’s choices and not asking them to conform to stereotypes. It is about valuing women and their ideas. Gender equality, and the role it plays in my community, is tremendously important to me.