We all can be powerful influencers...
JSP founder Fallon Drewett spoke with Minds Aligned partner, development coach and facilitator Rowena Hardy about her thoughts of a gender-balanced world and the importance of celebrating International Women’s Day.
IWD’s theme this year is balance for better and is calling for a more gender-balanced world. How do you think we can achieve this? Is it possible?
I would like to think that a more gender-balanced world is possible however I feel it’s going to take a long time to get anywhere close to it given the current rate of change and resistance in many regions of Australia and the world. I see it as imperative that we take the focus of gender as such and allow more gender fluidity so that no-one feels pressured to identify as one or another, because of judgement or discrimination which is a very real fear and significantly detrimental to overall well-being. I would love to see a world where we are able to recognise and let go of our conscious and unconscious biases so that every human is respected, regarded and valued for who they are and what they contribute as a unique individual not what they appear to be or what others think they are, particularly in relation to gender. I suggest that it starts with education so that everyone builds a more thorough understanding of the different aspects of gender and the complexities of identity and self-concept in order to increase tolerance and reduce ill-informed judgement and assumptions. That would be a good start anyway.
We are heading into an era of movements and activism, calling for more balance in the world; as a leader in our community is this an important way to have women’s voices heard and make changes a reality or is there another way?
While movements and activism may have their place given the extent of historical suppression of women, their lack of visibility, loss of voice and inequality on many levels, I feel that if it’s taken to extremes then it creates further issues. This can be particularly true when men (the indication here being that all men) are portrayed as the enemy. I know many good men, my husband is one, who are feminists, who genuinely love, care for, respect and support the women in their life and want the best for them; I feel this may be at risk if the generalised message from female activists is that ‘all men are dangerous and ‘misogynistic’. Instead I believe that education in relation to acceptable and unacceptable behaviour for all children from a young age is key, supported with healthy role-modelling of what effective adult behaviour looks like, sounds like and feels like. At the same time, I believe that we can all be powerful influencers, whatever gender we identify as, when we are courageous enough to stand up to and call out any unacceptable, biased behaviour in relation to gender.
Who are the leading ladies in your life? What makes them strong, brave, resilient and role models?
I see my mother-in-law as having been a pioneer in many ways, an independent woman who overcame many hardships and heartaches and offered a powerful voice in her community for doing what’s right and supporting others in any way she could. I also admire those with the courage to speak out against inequality with honesty and from a well-informed platform and delivered in a way that inspires action rather than encouraging resistance and who lead the way in creating positive change. I believe that Jacinda Ardern demonstrates these traits as do some of our Australian female politicians, when they are given the opportunity to step up.
Why is International Women’s Day important for women living and contributing to the Mackay and Greater Whitsunday region?
It can be easy to feel isolated living in a regional area when it seems that everything happens in capital cities or larger regional centres, yet some of the most resilient and pioneering women live in these areas. I recognise that women are hungry for knowledge, information and support for how to improve their lives and become more independent, confident and self-sufficient when they choose or need to be. I see IWD being important for bringing women of all ages and backgrounds together to share diverse experiences and perspectives, building stronger connections and lasting friendships and offering the opportunity to create positive change in the region together.
Words with Heart: Rowena Hardy and Fallon Drewett
Photo Love: Coffee and Hops