As I am writing this blog I am sitting looking out at Batemans Bay in New South Wales on the east coast of Australia. Yes I have escaped the confines of Melbourne. Who would have thought that I would be talking about escaping exactly a year ago when we first went into lockdown! This pandemic has changed the whole world. But as I am sitting here and looking at the scenery and the families who are vacationing here on this long weekend I realise how lucky I am. How lucky Australia is compared to the rest of the world.
We are pretty much living life as if normal. The only cases of COVID-19 that we have are in hotel quarantine at this point. It doesn’t mean that we won’t have breakouts in the future but boy we are lucky we are an island. And we are lucky that we have a government who have closed our boarders! Yes we can all bitch and complain that we can’t get overseas and we can have others around the world complain that they can’t get here but hey we are in a much better place than most of the world.
Yes it has been a tough year, especially in Victoria with the lockdowns that we faced but we have come out the other side. Sitting here watching the world around me proves to me how lucky we really are.
So why am I here and by myself. Well tomorrow is International Women’s Day and I am here as the Keynote Speaker for a luncheon taking place. It is so amazing to be here in person and not virtually. To be able to gauge peoples reactions to what I have to say.
This year’s theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’. Now we can look at that statement in a number of ways. We can choose to challenge the inequalities that women face around the world in so many different aspects of life. We can choose to challenge men around the world or even just in our own backyard about how they are choosing to challenge gender inequalities. For me I have chosen to challenge every aspect of my life as I grew up and into adulthood. Like lessons from my mother about choosing how I want to do things after being told I was too fat to do gymnastics as a little girl. Then to go forward in life joining a police force that had very few women and standing up for myself a number of times. I then challenged the doctor who upon diagnosing me with MS said, ‘my life as I knew it was over’ and to ‘put my affairs in order before I became incapacitated, boy if he could only see me now!
Then to be told that I would never make a national rowing team, a year later make that team and go on to place 6th at my first World Championships. Then switching to cycling and winning gold even after having to compete with the men in London. Funny enough all of these things other than the first one was out of the mouths or revolved around men! So I think that I fit well with this year’s theme of ‘Choose to Challenge’.
Now I know that not all women around the world have the opportunity to ‘choose to challenge’ because they aren’t afforded the freedom to do so. This too makes me realise how lucky we are in this country. We can have a voice for those that can’t.
So I pose one question “What will you do yourself or challenge others to call out gender inequality in life, in line with this year’s theme Choose to Challenge?”
“We need to live in a culture that values and respects and looks up to and idolizes women as much as men.” ~ Emma Watson