Runner-up 2015: Anna Hall, VIC
Author: Anna Hall
Community, State: Drouin, Victoria
Age, Grade: 16, Grade 10
If you were Prime Minister for a day, what would you do to help achieve gender equality? Think locally and nationally!
Australia is often referred to as “the lucky country”. But Australia is certainly not perfect, and there are aspects of our nation that are in desperate need for change. Gender inequality is an injustice that is still in effect, and we need to be striving to end it. Accomplishing such an improvement to our society cannot be achieved in one day. However, if I were Prime Minister for a day, I would aim to do as much as possible to achieve gender equality in Australia. I would push for improvements that may not first come to mind when thinking about gender equality.
Firstly, I would push for a unit called “Gender Studies” to be introduced into the curriculum for history and or health classes across Australian secondary schools. This topic would look at the history of gender equality in Australia, and ways we can improve it further as a nation. It would educate teenagers on the spectrum of genders, and explain that it there is not only “man and woman”. It is often said that adults, more specifically the elderly, are not comfortable with the prevalence of transgender people today as talking about them whilst growing up was not the norm. Educating young people about this would make this a norm, and it would encourage acceptance in our society of transgender people, reducing the prejudice aimed towards them by many Australian citizens.
Another education initiative I would support is that of domestic violence and abuse. Time spent on this in high-school would increase awareness of this dire issue, and encourage conversation about the topic within families and friendship circles. Currently, it is not uncommon to see front pages of major newspapers plastered with articles of women who have been abused or killed by their partner or ex-partner. Despite this, many young people don’t have an accurate understanding of what domestic violence actually entails. Victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse are often afraid to speak up for fear of retribution from their partner, and what discourages them even further is that many Australians have a tendency to shame these victims. Educating Australians on the adversity these victims face, and also highlighting the fact that men are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse too, would help to open up discussion about this issue further. In a 2005 Personal Safety Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it was found at the time that 12.4% of women and 4.5% of men had been sexually abused before the age of 15. Clearly, it is important that people learn about these matters at a young age in order to further prevent this issue.
If I were Prime Minister for a day, these are just some of the issues I would address. In order to achieve equality among all genders, there are many more problems within our society which must be resolved. Australia has a long way to go in achieving gender equality, and we must not stop striving for it now.