Leading Issues Journal 2015

November 2015

Editor’s Introduction

In this edition, I am proud to feature the work and insights of courageous, innovative, caring and leading women from Australia and abroad who are striving to address gender equality barriers within their own areas of expertise and for the benefit of all women.

Liesel Talery discusses her work and passion to integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment in democracy building in Libera, as Gender Director at the National Elections Commission of Liberia. She utilises her skilful leadership to evaluate, monitor and design policies, systems and practices to contribute to gender equality in Liberia.

Nazhat Shameem Khan in her reflective paper, whilst reminding us of the value of talking about our experiences of the barriers we face as women, she highlights, ”Yet we women, have often been brought up to be self–deprecating.  We often fail to value the importance of our own experiences. Our experiences are so important that they shape the type of leadership we are able to offer to the world. Yet we do not want to talk about them.”  Nazhat goes on to share her personal story which unfolds with valuable insights on leading qualitatively that is embedded in the foundation of one’s “experiences of the intersection of culture, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status and religious prejudice in the lives of women.”

In her search for any sensible rationale as to why one gender in the workplace continues “to be punished for their biology” – the ability to have children, Shirley Chowdhary urges that “we need to think seriously about male parental leave quotas if it could be the one thing that stops employers having the she-could-fall-pregnant-and-need-time-off-and-cost-me-money reaction?” Her reframing of strategies as “dividing parental leave into male and female quotas” has merit and needs to be explored further if we are to have a level playing field in workplaces.

Journalists Julie Macken and Pamela Curr’s ongoing 2015 campaign ‘Women in support of Women in Naru’ has drawn thousands of signatures from women calling on the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition to end the violence against women and families on Nauru and Manus Island.

The letter says in part:

We the undersigned women of Australia are speaking out in support of the women, children and men detained on Nauru and Manus Island. Families, women and children who are now suffering ongoing sexual assault and torment both within and without the detention centres of Nauru and Manus Island.

In this edition, both Julie and Luisa share their journey and frustration over how Australia is dealing with the issue of asylum seekers and why it needs to change.

What would compel a woman to ride 500km on a bike in 5 days in Thailand, not having ridden a bike for 25 years? Sarah Valentine’s story to take on this challenge to assist orphaned children who are at risk is extraordinary.

In 2012, Paula Ferrari felt the urgency to act when she saw “the photo of a little girl, perhaps aged 6 or 7, being held by her mother, legs raised and screaming in pain as women leaned over her genitals, made me physically ill.” Paula co-founded No FGM Australia aiming to protect girls from female genital mutilation, advocate for dignified care and support to empower survivors of FGM. In her article, Paula discusses what has been achieved and what still needs to be done.

Finally, Dr Roslyn Franklin’s PhD research summary gives a snapshot of her Study – Making waves: Contesting the lifestyle marketing and sponsorship of female surfers.

Diann Rodgers-Healey, PhD

Leading Issues Journal

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