United we (should) stand
“Violence leaves its marks long after the black eyes fade and the adrenalin dissolves”
Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, 9/3/11
A few weeks ago marked the celebrations for the 100th International Women’s Day, and although pretty quiet in my books, there were bigger items on the agenda then just celebrations for Kate Ellis, Minister for the Status of Women. Ms Ellis appeared at the National Press Club locked and loaded for a powerful speech and 12 year plan to make significant changes to the lives of Australian women.
Ms Ellis spoke about women’s rights; how far we’ve come and where we should go now. Despite overcoming many great challenges in the past including access to education and furthering some work opportunities, astounding statistics say that violence against women still prevails, with 1 in 3 women you pass on the street having been affected since the age of 15, or 2 out of 3 for women in Pacific countries.
I’m not sure about you, but when you hear that more women will have experienced violence then hold a bachelors degree, alarm bells start to ring at just how severe the issues still are. However unless it’s a celebrity of some sort, news reports of violence and sexual assault do not sell papers. People and the media are uncomfortable about it, so what are we going to do?
The fact that the Australian media would rather print stories on Charlie Sheen then the rights of the women he’s harassed in the past, certainly gives viewers a reason not to stand up, or further to that, see a reason why they should when their issues aren’t treated with respect. So what kind of a picture does this paint for women struggling with social opinions as it is? That we support highly paid actors for their disgusting actions because they’re funny? That we don’t take the issues seriously?
There are changes that need to be made, and as Ms Ellis continued speaking, she said those changes are both ‘structural and cultural’, and those are the goals that need to be made. Continuing to speak about steps for the future, Ms Ellis emphasised the importance of simply acknowledging that violence is a very real part of life for many women.
Ms Ellis spoke of actions like supporting men in their roles at home, as well as women in their roles in the workforce, which bought a little bit of attention to something not-so-well-known about when it comes to women’s rights. Women are often unable to hold executive positions in the workforce, due to commitments to their families, and home lives. This is a bridge we need to cross if we want things to change in the future. She said the message would be more effective through the united voice of a community, rather then just women by themselves.
Sadly, violence against women, physically, emotionally and sexually, are seen as issues that come with being a woman. This should never be the case. To make a change we need to educate people on the truth, and that is that women do not need to suffer in silence. Without going into an in-depth speech review and policy analysis, I hereby dedicate this article (and more to follow) to the cause of keeping the unified spirit alive to make a positive advance. In honour of social change, lets help spread the word on acknowledgment of very real actions happening in very real lives.
We have the right to live free of violence and the responsibility to ensure others do too, Kate Ellis says, and it’s incredibley true, that our society should support and encourage one another. Make a stand.
For more information on domestic violence visit: http://au.reachout.com/find/articles/domestic-violence