On Tuesday morning we celebrated International Women’s Day with breakfast attended by members of our community and the other Catholic schools in Geelong. It was a wonderful morning of discussion – a tremendous hum in the room and marvellous to be able to get together in this way.
We were grateful for the openness and engagement of our guest speakers, Melissa Hickey and Danielle Higgins as they spoke about women breaking the biases that work against them. We learned a lot about AFLW and the ways in which women strive for athletic excellence against some fairly stiff opposition at times. We heard about the difficulties of juggling full-time work and high athletic aspirations, about what it takes to reach goals when obstacles get in the way and the need to, at all times, remain positive, driven and focused on the goals that are set. With women like Melissa and Danielle leading the charge, the future of women’s football is bright and we hope that it spills over into all manner of women’s sport in their effort to equity with their male counterparts. We sincerely thank them for their time and their willingness to share their experiences with us.
The gathering was also addressed by our Assistant Principal, Jo Ryan who spoke with passion about the need for women to keep striving – together – for equity. Her address is below.
Women are still fighting the longest revolution in the history of the world – hundreds of years of striving for equality that even now – a fifth of the way through the 21st Century – we have not won. We are still not paid as much as men. We hit Perspex ceilings as we climb corporate ladders – judged if we have children and work and judged if we choose not to. What are the hallmarks of a strong man are somehow unseemly in women. We should be grateful for a seat at the table, for the chance to play, for the opportunities we make for ourselves – we should be humble and quiet about our achievements. Many women go home to violence, coercion, financial and emotional abuse. The threat of sexual violence is so ubiquitous that we do not even walk the same streets and if we do, we walk with keys through fingers, phones on and fearful that we might not make it home. We are victim-blamed and fat shamed and labour under a cult of impossible standards of youth and beauty that is financially, emotionally and psychologically damaging. And this is in Australia – where we have rights, at least in law if not in effect.
We have a long way to go but it takes energy, consciousness and effort and it starts with women supporting women because sadly, some of the judgments that keep us from reaching our potential or living our truths, are uttered by women against women. It is only when we work together to challenge the patriarchy that operates in subtle and enduring ways and call out violence – physical, mental and emotional abuse – that we can collectively claim our rights, our truths, our equality. WE must stand for each other, and if we do, we will a force that can win any day and break the chains that still bind us and against which women have railed for centuries.
Whether deliberate or unconscious, gendered bias is an obstacle to women moving ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough. Individually, we are responsible for our thoughts and actions – all day, every day. If we ensure that those thoughts and actions work for the collective good, we can break the bias in our communities, workplaces, schools, relationships and on playing fields.
Visit the Clonard Facebook page to view all the photos from the morning: shorturl.at/xBHTU