Top 15: Megan Kelly

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

Author: Megan Kelly

Community: Willunga, SA

Age: 16

Gender equality has come a long way since the suffragettes. However, the rights of women still depend on where they live. In my community, gender equality is fairly balanced; I live in the city of Onkaparinga council, which is governed by Mayor Lorraine Rosenberg. I attend Willunga High School, which is run by Janelle Riemann and I play netball at McLaren Vale Netball Club, which is a female-dominated sport (yet we have a male president).

In the 1940s, my Nan worked at the Shell Company. However, when she was married was asked to leave. Nan defied the expectation of the time, left her job at Shell and became a court reporter for the Commonwealth Government. Nan overcame gender inequality and social expectations to continue her adult life whilst working and raising a family. Nan, who is presently 91, is easily one of the most influential people in my life.

Gender stereotypes have a massive role to play in gender equality. Two people who defy all stereotypes for females are my godmothers, Sally and Cynthia. They are determined, courageous and hard-working women. They own and run a dry cleaning business, and Sally also works part time at the local swimming centre. They live at home together along with their father, and both of them are not married and don’t have children. Sally and Cynthia show that no matter what the stereotypes given to women (such as getting married or being a stay at home mum) they will not live their lives to the expectations of society. To do this, I think you have to be incredibly strong. They are constantly inspiring me to be the best and do the best I can in life.

The question of this essay also asks, “Should more be done to empower women?” It depends on how we each define the word “empowerment.” Women should feel empowered by the choices they make in life. If a woman decides that she wants a family and will no longer work, there should be no judgement, and likewise if a woman wants to have a career instead of a family. I define the word empowerment as the freedom to make choices and be proud of the decisions that you make. I think that the only thing we can do more of in our community is to stop judging the decisions that people make in their own lives.

We have come a long way in 90 years since the suffragettes. From the right to vote to running our own businesses, and having a female Mayor and even Australia’s first female Prime Minister are all testaments to that. We should feel empowered to be like the women I spoke about; be strong and stand up to the stereotypes inflicted on us by society. We are all human beings, and we have come from the same place. Every woman deserves a chance to stand up and make a change. ‘It always seems impossible, until it is done,’ Nelson Mandela.