Top 15: Elizabeth Ross

Home»Top 15: Elizabeth Ross

Analyse gender equality in your community. Should more be done to empower women?

Author: Elizabeth Ross

Community: Toormina, NSW

Age: 16

According to Steve Maraboli, “The purpose of empowerment is to urge you towards freedom, to help each of you to break free of all limitations.” This concept of empowerment challenges us to embrace our potential as women, however it does not recognise the opportunities we are now offered because of the ground-breaking work of those who came before us. In my local community, Coffs Harbour on the north coast of New South Wales, I am reminded daily of the potential for women’s empowerment and leadership as well as the challenges that many women face.

As a future leader of our community, I am inspired by other women who have broken the ‘glass ceiling.’ In Coffs Harbour I have many examples from which I can draw for this inspiration. From women in political roles such as our Lord Mayor Denise Knight, to women who head local charity organisations, public service organisations and businesses. Together they offer me, and other young women like me, hope that the future for women will be one that embraces gender equality in all areas of our community. This is further supported by the recent publication of statistics around the university graduation rates of women, which indicate that in 2002 of the 151,550 graduates 56% were women, whereas in 2013 of the 195,000 60% were women.

It is clearly evident that there is a vast range of positive examples of women empowerment in Coffs Harbour, though a disparity between men and women exists, which motivates me to work with others toward closing this gap. Evidence exposing this gender inequality includes the number of men in executive roles of power, the 18.2% pay difference and lack of support given to women in sport. In Coffs Harbour the majority of managers of major businesses are men, such as the Regional Manager of the Coffs ex-services group and the Head Teacher of TAFE. These examples drive me to ensure similar opportunities are accessible for women.

There are many strategies we can use to overcome the gender inequality present in Coffs Harbour, which can be easily implemented and effective. Women’s empowerment begins in school at a young age, so it is crucial to encourage girls in school to accept opportunities and engage in leadership roles. Another method of promoting gender equality is offering scholarships at universities and other positive incentives to motivate women to empower themselves and seek further professions. Women in leadership roles present in schools and the wider community is also an essential step to inspiring young women to be leaders in the future.

In Coffs Harbour there are many positive and inspiring examples of women’s empowerment yet an inequality between genders still exists. There are many strategic methods of overcoming the issue to reach gender equality. I am motivated and encouraged by the women I see in leadership roles to become one myself, and dutifully partake in the empowerment of the women of my generation.