Top 15: Kathleen Lambert

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

Author: Kathleen Lambert

Community: Horsham, VIC

Age: 17

In the world we live in today, gender equality is a highly controversial subject affecting everyone. Inequality can be seen in the workplace, in society and in the mind of every human being. Gender equality is a global issue, and needs to be addressed, not just by empowering women but by making the world a better place for everyone.

In the past, gender inequality could be easily recognised. It was identified and overcome. Examples of this are protests like the ‘1960s bra burning’ for women’s rights. Women knew that they deserved equal pay for equal work. The result for society was a change in viewing women as deserving of equal rights to men. Currently we see women as their own person. Today gender inequality still exerts influence, but the difficulty is in clearly identifying this issue. Subtle things influence our perception of others. Things like stigmas and expected social gender roles govern the way we see gender equality. Empowering women has started the process of change in our society. It’s normal for a woman to take time off to care for her children, however, how would society react if a man decided to do this? He would most likely be subject to judgement and ridicule. Now we need all people to be free to decide their own lives. Currently we still expect women to be the one at home caring for her children. Why not be able to see the fathers, or men, as carers and nurturers? The gender inequality is subtle, and unfortunately, is still present in the minds of everyone to an extent.

Horsham is a rural city in Western Victoria with an engrained belief of specific gender roles. Small towns are slow to uptake change of expected ‘normal’ gender roles. Gossip is the tool used to maintain the balance. Gossips maliciously castigate someone that visibly goes against the expected social norms. The victim of gossip is often ostracised by the community. Horsham has a big sporting culture, where the girls are expected to play netball and the boys play football. If a boy decided to play netball he would be considered ‘weird’ and avoided by his peers in future.

People maintaining gender inequality in our town can cause us to stagnate as a society. A progressive society needs change in order to survive and grow into the future. Allowing all people to be who they are freely will help to end inequality.

Gender equality has many sides and arguments. There are many things that need to be done both globally and locally to help. A possible solution is not only the empowerment of women but rather empowering all society. If we can change the social norms on gender roles and expectations, then we can overcome inequality. It is a long process but it’s a journey we must all take to end inequality for a brighter future.