2018 International Women's Day must be about taking real action on gender disparity and violence

Rosie Batty

Rosie Batty

IT is with some sadness that we approach International Women’s Day this year with the news that tireless campaigner and activist for an end to family violence, Rosie Batty, is stepping down from the foundation honouring the life of her son Luke.

Rosie was a guest speaker at the 2017 Hastings Business Women’s Network’s International Women’s Day breakfast in Port Macquarie, and it was an honour and privilege to listen to her empowering words about the need for social change and the resilience required to make it happen.

Rosie created a dialogue around the confronting realities of family violence, and fuelled the campaign for tangible social change with unrelenting power through her grief, after her 11-year-old son was bludgeoned to death by his own father.

She has been unwavering in weathering the storm of resistance that came with rightly calling out male violence as the problem, and spotlighting our acceptance of the behaviours that feed it.

Rosie demanded that we all be responsible for the social change required to end the scourge of abuse - that we stand together, like she has done for her son, and call it out for what it is. That we take a good, hard look at our own behaviours, what we accept and what we can do to challenge the toxic stereotypes and social norms, to make this world we all live in and share a better place.

But it takes more than a one-off gimmicky campaign, or a special day on the calendar, to achieve this.

To honour Rosie’s efforts and all the work she has done in the face of some of the most vile adversity, it is our responsibility to start taking this seriously.

Social change to challenge the patriarchal systems that validate violence in any form begins with us and will take a generation before we see any real difference. It takes persistence. It takes courage.

To honour Rosie’s efforts and all the work she has done in the face of some of the most vile adversity, it is our responsibility to start taking this seriously.

Gender disparity exists and the abuse of power, control feeds off it. Walking in a woman’s shoes for a day, a novel event with no doubt the best of intentions to create a conversation and support a worthy cause, doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the enormity of the problem we have.

Some might even agree asking men to wear heels actually validates a stereotype about women in the workplace and diminishes the seriousness of the issue by making it fun.

As one reader suggested, “you wouldn’t paint your face black for half an hour to experience real racism”.

It is time for real action. On International Women’s Day on March 8, start a conversation but commit to the change. When you see inequality in action in your home, at school, in your workplace, on the street – challenge it and don’t let it go.

And if you choose to stay on the path of resistance and default to calling it all out as feminist BS, then do it with a valid argument about why you do not believe equality matters.


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