Finalist 2016: Lucy Arundell, NSW

Home»Finalist 2016: Lucy Arundell, NSW

Name: Lucy Arundell

Community, State: Orange, NSW

School: Kinross Wolaroi School

Age: 16, Grade 11

Why is gender equality important to you and your community?

Why is gender equality important to me? Because my mother would pretend she was a farmers wife, instead of the farmer, when she bought farm equipment to avoid hassling. Because none of the 12 Orange City councillors are women. Because when someone says “You throw like a girl,” it’s not a compliment.

Australia has a culture of internalized sexism. From birth, we are unknowingly and unconsciously led to believe that women are weak, women are objects, women are less capable than men. This sexism expresses itself in our community in the workplace, local council and sport.

Gender equality in the workplace is important to me and my community because people should be treated equally whatever their gender or profession. In a rural community like mine, women in stereotypically male occupations such as farming or mining face constant harassment. Whenever my mum went into stores to buy farming equipment, she would write herself a list, and then pretend she was buying for her husband. The store keepers would show her more respect if they thought she was a farmer’s wife. My mum ran the farm.

The fact is that in Australia, and particularly in rural areas, women in traditionally male dominated professions are not treated with the respect they deserve. Farmers, miners, builders- all occupations that dominate the Orange district are apparently “not for women”.

There are currently 12 Orange City Councillors, none of whom are women. This lack of female representation is disturbing. It’s concerning that in a century where women are considered equals, our local council is entirely made up of men.

The Orange district is a sport dominated area. Like much of Australia, almost everyone plays a sport, and it remains close to the heart of many residents. Unfortunately with this comes gender discrimination. “You throw like a girl,”; girls are suddenly told that they can’t throw- and to throw “like a girl” is a terrible thing. Another casual insult is hidden as a compliment “You’re almost as good as a boy,”. Why do I have to be a boy to be good at sport? I know many girls who are much better athletes than boys, yet in my community, being good at sport either means you are a boy, or you play like one.

Gender discrimination is embedded in Australian culture, and that’s why gender equality is so important, for me, my community, and the Australian people.