Finalist 2017: Ruby Walker, NSW

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Name: Ruby Walker

Community, State: Inverell, NSW

School: Inverell HIgh School

Age: Year 10 16 years old

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

Women have a tough path into power, I believe this is because men have always been seen as stronger leaders. This idea of women being the weaker sex, leads many of us to believe, mentally we are unfit to handle power which isn’t true. I believe one of the major hurdles for women seeking leader positions is fear of harassment or ridicule. Australia’s first female PM, Julia Gillard endured harsh criticism, name calling and harassment based on her appearance and personal life choices. Which would be unheard of for a man. This kind of behaviour and negative portrayals from media has significant influence over the public and their perceptions.

I believe the most important thing we can do to help all women is to give support and encouragement. We need more support through education, from teachers, parents, the community, sport, workplace and especially from each other. Young women need to be taught about their self worth and how to not let others undermined them. This self confidence will provide the foundation to pursuing new opportunities and remaining determined. Their is no need to conform to a masculine ideal to be a strong leader. Women need to be taught how to value their own traits and what they can bring to the table (which is a lot).

While we can build ourselves up barriers place on us by our society want to keep us down. As a major stakeholder in the world, women’s issues and concerns are seriously under represented. In the workplace women are still expected to choose between a career or children as you wont be able to afford the other but then we still receive unequal pay and are criticised for our personal choice anyway. Regardless of a women’s decisions we need to be supported, child care services need to be more accessible, cheap, and funded. The pay gap needs to be closed. Women also need to be educated to not pressure other women into avoiding career choices. At the end at the day we are more than capable to handle both, more support and action from communities is needed to let this happen.

Such a strong connection in communities and in the home will breed strength and determination. It will let women reach their potential, create role models and mentors to look up to and to refer to for help. Even closer support networks will form between women. Women are at their strongest when they stand together , and younger generations need this positive influence more than before. We were always capable but encouragement lets us blossom early.