Finalist 2017: Michelle Monaghan, SA
Name: Michelle Monaghan
Community, State: Victor Harbor, SA
School: Victor Harbor High School
Age: Year 12, 18 years old
Check out this amazing top 40 entry!
From primary school to Prime Minister, how can we create strong pathways to power for women?
Unfortunately, gender inequality is an ongoing issue in Australia as only 14 percent of girls think they receive the same opportunities as men, and some believe if they were a man they would get their dream career[i]. Even Queen Elizabeth I of England, constantly asserted her authority as a ruler through masculine terms, ‘I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.’[ii] Yet despite this, her reign was called ‘The Golden Age’ and she reigned seven years longer than her father King Henry VIII, so why did she feel the need to be masculine? Furthermore, why are we called ‘mankind?’ why not ‘GENDERKIND?’
When I worked at my local McDonalds one thing always stood out to me, female workers running the front area and male workers running the kitchen area with the exception of female managers. What was wrong with having an equal balance of men out the front and women in the back? This was my first instance of gender inequality and imbalance of opportunity.
I can see opportunities being created in primary schools to high schools, by bringing girls of senior year levels together in a mentorship program with local women of power, whether they be a local councillor or store owner. I believe this would instil more self confidence in female students by listening to these local women share their stories about their journey to the present, and how they deal with situations that may arise from time to time in their career and building these life skills with female students, so they will be able to use them in their future careers. Additionally, conducting leadership workshops with the girls and creating different scenarios where each student can take the role of leader and build leadership and teamwork skills with mentors giving feedback to the girls.
The Prime Minister could use their own influence and funding to create a Female Leader Internship at every Parliament House in each state of Australia. This opportunity would allow women to be mentored by ministers and members of Parliament in learning what is involved in a political career, building strong leadership and networking skills and being allowed to sit in meetings and share their opinions on public issues and developments in the state and promoting female opportunities.
As Malala Yousafzai once said, ‘We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.’[iii]
[i] Norman Hermant, Everyday Sexism report: Are girls and young
women treated equally in Australia? Most say no
Accessed: 7th September 2017
[ii] Tracey Borman, From warrior queens to quiet radicals
Royal Women, 2017, Page six
[iii] Radhika Sanghani, Why the world loves Malala Yousafzai
Accessed: 7th September 2017