Women push the economy forward and are the force behind so many decisions that keep the world turning. But how do we perceive this position in 2020? Geri Vladeva talks to three influential Aussies about their thoughts on the balance of women’s empowerment
In the past twenty years, according stats provided by the United Nations, the number of women in parliaments worldwide has doubled. The first all-female commercial flight was operated by Ethiopian Airlines in 2015, and the first all-women spacewalk was accomplished by NASA in October last year. The world is changing. And red is the new pink.
From a gentle impotent presence in men’s lives, women today speak up and act upon what we believe is best. With our active roles in society, we push the economy (and the world!) forward. Moved by our natural concern for environment and equality, we take decisions that are sustainable and inclusive.
It is all about our children. And if we don’t have our own, then we adopt our communities and fight for social causes.
As an example, the volunteers in my local community, probably in yours too, are predominantly female.
Sometimes we might not be the (primary) cash providers in our families. But we are the ones that make or influence the decisions on most things. Seventy to eighty per cent of consumer decisions are taken by women. Bearing the responsibility to be the society’s caregivers, we earned the privilege to be the arbiters. However, we don’t take this job lightly.
Marie-Clare Boothby, a business owner and candidate for the Liberal Party of the Northern Territory for the 2020 elections, agrees that women today are the primary decision-makers, but it’s because we are better negotiators and communicators.
“I believe the ability to negotiate, influence and communicate the importance of why you believe a point of view or decision is the right one is what sets apart women who feel they have less rights than those who don’t see it as a challenge,” she explains.
Peta Mabbs, in her current position of CEO of the Town of Bassendean in Western Australia, confirms that belief. “I am fully responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organisation, so I feel very empowered to influence the business within the parameters that have been set. However, I am collaborative and interested in others’ views, particularly if my decisions impact upon them.”
We shape the future of the world through our children. When we are young and our children still toddlers, we don’t realise how influential everything is that we say or do in their presence. We reap the fruit of our parenting efforts years later and hear our words in their mouths and see the proof that they have been listening. Our values and beliefs have become theirs. But we know parenting is hard. Add to this the challenge of being the parent who is the primary care giver and administrator of everything that keeps the business of family running!
“It was really, really tough not having a double income at the beginning and sometimes overwhelming that your future, the life of your kids, rests on your shoulders. But then you remember that you’ve got this, you are more than capable to create your own life and finances,” confesses Lou McGregor, a branding and marketing expert from Surfers Paradise.
The Australian Human Rights Commission, in their publication Face the Facts: Gender equality 2018, states that women spend almost twice as many hours a week performing unpaid care work compared with men. As a result, “women are more likely to experience poverty in their retirement years and be far more reliant on the age pension.” And yet, so many of us work hard to cover all bases and be the best mums, employees, friends and daughters, as Lou points out. We feel like we need to prove ourselves. “And the truth is, we often disregard ourselves in the process and then really can be pretty useless to everyone,” she admits.
Same as our children, we take example from our mothers. Lou’s is “a really strong cookie … even when life got tough, she would just work bloody hard to make it work.”
“My mum was a go-getter, like I am, and balancing work, family and voluntary roles”, adds Marie-Clare. “[But] my dad always seemed incredibly supportive of her.”
Nowadays, women have an important and increasingly powerful presence. Subtly or publicly taken, our decisions influence communities around the world with great impact. A research paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that it’s women who push for sustainable policies when involved in decision making.
Women have the power we always wanted, and that which past generations fought for. But do we want to be the sole rulers? “Men are pivotal in our society and often need as much love and nurturing and share of voice as we do, but I think sometimes have lost how to express that”, says Lou. She believes in female empowerment but doesn’t think it should be sold or promoted as a thing that leaves men out of the equation. Peta agrees: “I think men and women both have a critical role in decision making. I do not think as one being superior or more effective, only that we are different.”
“It would be wonderful to find a way to create that balance” wishes Lou for our generations of tomorrow.
Women claimed more power because we have committed ourselves to work harder and help others. For the lucky amongst us, we’re not dictated to by what the society decides for us anymore. It is about what we want to become and what we want to do with our authority. But, we are on the whole, collaborative and consider that the world is a better place if we’re sharing – workload, decisions and equal pay – with our male mates. As Thomas Paine said, “the balance of power is the scale of peace.”
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About the writer:
Geri Vladeva is a freelance writer and publishes about female travel on her blog When Woman Travels.