Winner 2015: Alyssa Dolting, TAS
Author: Alyssa Dolting
Community, State: Burnie, TAS
Age, Grade: 17, Year 11
Bio: Click here
If you were Prime Minister for a day, what would you do to help achieve gender equality? Think locally and nationally!
As Prime Minister for a day, creating empowerment through gender equality would be my number one focus to create a more just and respectful nation.
I believe that Australia needs a powerful female role-model who can demonstrate that leadership, intelligence and hard-work is not gender specific. True equality comes only through greater awareness, education and intolerance of demeaning stereotypes and judgements of women.
Unfortunately, this issue is omnipresent within our society, on a global, national and local scale. Gender equality, though improved greatly since the time of the Suffragettes and Whitlam’s Anti-Discrimination Act of 1975, still does not truly exist in democratic Australia. How can it when such stereotypes of female weaknesses prevail? For example, the Australian Parliament has thirty per cent female representation. Also, at school I overheard a male student talking, “Well, women are only good as hair-dressers and stay-at-home mums.” I was horrified by such a sexist attitude. This is why I believe young men should be included in the fight for gender equality. After all, how will change be brought about when only fifty percent of Australia is involved?
In our country, I see a common floccinaucinihilipilification of women. By the age of fourteen, many girls feel they need to ‘grow up’. They begin wearing make-up and provocative clothing. Many girls want to have a boyfriend and see that as life’s ultimate goal. They are influenced by males’ attitudes, the media and society’s unfair expectations, judgements and stereotypes. For this reason, I would, as Prime Minister, launch a Gender Empowerment Program for all Year Eight students. This program would be divided into single sex groupings. For young women, it would teach them that they are not and should not be dictated to by anyone.
However, this issue not only affects females; males are also affected by gender inequality and stereotypes. As a student, I see many young men affected by this issue as society assumes that men cannot be sensitive and have feelings. This misleading concept can lead to males feeling alone, and, sometimes, to self-harm and suicide. In fact, as cited from ‘Mindframe’ in 2013, 1885 males (as opposed to 639 females) died as a result of suicide. I think this appalling epidemic needs to be stopped. Men need to feel accepted and feel free to display their emotions.
My program would be organised into single sex groups following a relationship focused education, which would have respect at its centre. It would confront issues such as violence against women to try and tackle this issue at an age when teenagers are still developing their moral code. Teachers, as well as local experts (police, counsellors and health professionals) would run this program.
In addition, I would encourage young women to be involved in leadership positions in their schools and communities.
In conclusion, as Prime Minister I would establish scholarships for young, rural women aged between twelve and eighteen to give them hope and aspirations for their futures as leaders of our country.