Finalist 2017: Julia Enter, VIC

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Name: Julia Enter

Community, State: Stony Creek , VIC

School: Mary Mackillop Leongatha Catholic Regional College

Age: Year 12, age 18

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From primary school to Prime Minister, how can we create strong pathways to power for women?

From Barbies and princesses to handbags and shoes, women and girls are continually conditioned to comply with society’s narrow notion of femininity. It is reinforced through advertising, film and magazines that a woman’s self-worth should be based more on her appearance than her character. We are taught to be conscious of our appearance through the comments of those who are dearest to us; family and friends might come over to visit and gush over the cuteness of a little girl while complementing a little boy on his Lego building skills. Three waves of feminism have already demanded gender equality in the west, yet we still live in a male dominated society. 68% of parliamentarians are male, and woman run fewer ASX 200 companies than men named John, or Peter, or David.

From an early age we need to inspire our girls to reach for the stars through role models, positive media and opportunities to engage in intellectual discussions. I do not personally know any women who are engaged in political affairs, yet I have met countless men. Women with political and economic tract do exist, however, in the rural area where I live they are few and far between. I think it would be beneficial to organise a program in primary schools where successful women connect with their community to inspire other girls to reach their full potential. I also feel that it is important for boys to engage with these influential women so that they expect nothing less than to work side by side with women in whatever profession they choose.

Nowadays our lives are saturated with media and unfortunately this is not always a positive influence for women. If strong, ambitious and influential women were flaunted in our media I am sure many more girls would aspire to such positions.

I have been fortunate enough to participate in discussions throughout my life with many bright people. These conversations have fed my perpetual curiosity and enabled me to form an opinion about the pressing questions in life. If all young high school girls have this opportunity I think it would help them to find their voice and be more confident in their convictions. Promoting discussions and diverse subject choice in high school would foster assertive women and encourage them to aspire to have a positive influence in the world.