Empowering Girls for Societal Change

Ms Holly O’Sullivan Williams

The United Nations estimated in 2010 that there were 101.7 males for every 100 women, meaning that women account for approximately half of the world’s population. In Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics report that the population of women is consistently more than men, with approximately 98.4 males per 100 females in 2020. With this in mind, it should be no surprise to anyone that the voices of women are being heard powerfully across the country and indeed, many parts of the world when it comes to misogyny, pay inequality, gendered violence and other discrimination on the basis of gender.

The March4Justice movement on 15 March saw around 100,000 women protest with the purpose of demanding the Australian Government swiftly devise an action plan in response to gendered violence. With the collective voices of Brittany Higgins, Chanel Contos, Grace Tame and countless others, the message is clear when it comes to gendered violence, Australia has had enough. This is not a tale of women hating men, nor is it a narrative of revenge stemming from the MeToo movement of 2017. As we work towards helping young women to grow into strong and confident adults, our efforts in educating them will never be enough unless the men in their lives stand beside them. We are fortunate that so many of the males in our community; fathers, stepfathers, brothers, teachers, coaches and so on, are supportive of the movement and the women in their lives. They stand beside our girls and acknowledge the inherent vulnerability and the fact that we have a problem across the globe that requires addressing. Many females in our community are afraid to walk alone at night, attend parties where they could be assaulted or become the victims of violent abuse.

Sex education programs with topics including consent continue to be part of our Social Emotional Learning curriculum at St Aidan’s. Not because the National Curriculum mandates it, but because regardless of gender, our students need to know what their rights are, what consent is and how to feel empowered to speak up. In spite of the education we provide at St Aidan’s pertaining to consent and safety, there continues to be a problem in society. We need more men, young and old, to stand beside their wives, sisters, daughters and partners on this issue, for society to see any change. We cannot stop at schools in fighting this injustice.

We thank Chanel Contos and all the other brave women who have spoken out; for inspiring educators, parents and the wider community for speaking up to make the changes necessary for a better world.


This article was originally published in The Huddle Autumn 2021.