6 March 2013

How eating lunch and tweeting can change the world

Justice Catherine Davani
(Role Model and generally super clever
and inspirational woman)
My parents have six small grandchildren - five female and one male who wants to play the bagpipes and soccer (preferably at the same time). They want the same world for the five as they do for the one.

Perhaps with less bagpipes but still equal.

How will that happen? Gender equality.

I hear you before you start - WTF is gender equality and do I have to dress like a man and wear old style birkenstocks and get bitter and twisted Germaine Greer style?

Hear me out on this one okay? Before I start let me just state for the record that I have no affiliation with UN Women or International Women's Day - I write purely because this issue speaks to me as a female, a mother, a daughter, a sister and an opposer of apathy.

The 18 year old who was sexually assaulted walking home on the weekend by 5 men in a car? What do the comments sections of the papers suggest? Her own fault for being out at night.

The woman from Victoria some years back who killed her daughters because as a survivor of incest and sexual abuse she couldn't see a way to keep them safe? Nutters on talk-back radio said she should have never attempted to have children if she was so broken.

The woman in western NSW who shot her husband after 20 years of abuse? Apparently she should have hardened the fuck up and left him earlier.

Gender equality at the very least is to stop laying blame on the victims of violence and at the other end, it's transformational activism which changes lives.

Executive Director of UN Women Australia, Julie McKay has invited Justice Catherine Davani from Papua New Guinea to address the International Women's Day lunch in Canberra this Friday and in Melbourne next week. Justice Davani is the first woman to be appointed to the National and Supreme Courts in PNG and has a 28 year legal career behind her. Revolutionary in a country where 67% of women experience some kind of violence and have very limited access to support services, education and equal opportunity. And inspirational no matter where you are.

Julie McKay says "All women have the right to live free of violence and proceeds from our International Women's Day events will help UN women expand their critical services program for women experiencing violence in PNG."

But what about here - in Australia - our local communities? See that's the lovely thing - so many woman are promoting gender equality every day and actively contributing to a change in the way Australian society sees women. Canberra is honouring 100 of them on Friday from all walks of life - sports, arts, government, support services, religious organisations, welfare, trade unions, education, and health and disability services. We are ahead of PNG, common sense says the funds are best directed to helping out women in our region who aren't blessed with the same economic prosperity and opportunity.

FFS dude I hear you say - women in Australia have equal rights. Its all fine! Just shut up.

Ahem. If you honestly believe that our societal impulse to judge women as at fault when they are victims of violence is equality - you're an idiot. If you think the fact that women doing the same jobs for less than men is equality - you're an idiot. If you think that it's unmanly to be a stay at home dad - you're an idiot. If you think it's okay that male sports teams are given more profile than female teams - you're an idiot. If you think it's fine when an article is written about our female politicians and people write into complain about the colour of their suits in the accompanying picture - you're an idiot. This is not equality.

Change is needed. And it has to start with you. And me. And him. And her. My parent's generation. My generation.  The X's, the Y'x, the Baby Boomers, the Z's. Those born before generations were given names for the purposes of marketing to a target audience.  All of them.

Karen Radford - Hipster, music lover, writer - joined UN Women last year after attending an International Women's day lunch. She's not saying she's Justice Davani, or Julie McKay, or Quentin Bryce, but she does know that to do nothing is not an option. "Gender equality is something I am passionate about and being part of the Canberra Chapter of UN Women Australia gives me a chance to contribute. Whether it's simply tweeting about ending violence against women or being on the committee to help organise an event, it feels great to be a part of the movement"

That's how easy it is to start changing the world - eat lunch and tweet. And anybody can be part of that.

(For more information on UN Women and their lunches - go to www.unwomen.org.au or for more about International Women's Day go to www.internationalwomensday.com)

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