Once upon a female: The story of Alanna Bastin-Byrne from Femeconomy


Alanna Bastin- Byrne is resilient, extroverted, industrious, humorous and a planner.

Like, most women living in today’s modern world, Alana is generous, supportive, courageous, tough and kind. Women like Alanna are the perfect combination of steel and cotton wool, able to be strong and feminine all at once.

She believes women are tough in the modern world, but as the stories of women in history have shown, women have always had to be tough.

“My Nana had seven children and was a single parent running a pub that required her to be very tough. And women are tough the world over, in less developed communities. They face issues we would never experience in our lifetime.”

Alanna is the co-founder of Femeconomy, which she runs with her business partner and sister-in-law Jade Collins.

Femeconomy ethos is about empowering women to advance the gender equality every day by shopping brands with female leaders. 

Alanna, said women make 85% of consumer purchase decisions and during the 2015-16 financial year, it is estimated Australian women spent $198.9 billion. 

“The collective power of our purses is a very large economic lever and currently we aren't using it to advance gender equality. At the moment Australia won’t achieve gender equality until 2186, as estimated by the World Economic Forum, but we are here to help change that.”

Over 2000 brands are featured on the site, with over 700 receiving our badge of approval. The Femeconomy badge of approval means that brand either has at least 30% of women on the Board of Directors or 50% female ownership. 

“We want women to buy from brands with female leaders because when women are at the top decision making table, companies are more likely to have work flexibility and less of a gender pay gap. Female leaders can help drive positive change for so many more of us.

“And when I say us, I mean men and women. I haven’t met one millennial man who doesn’t want more work flexibility,” she said

While discussing with JSP courage and strength found in women Alanna believes as the world gets smaller through technology, we are increasingly finding ourselves learning women’s stories of courage across the globe.

“Women are uniting to help each other.  This gives us all renewed courage and strength to continue to walk the path to gender equality. If you think about where women were in society 100 years ago we’ve achieved so much. Imagine what the world will look like in 2117? I am going to say equal.”

With discussions of gender equality and closing the gap between men and women, Alanna said women make up at least 50% of the population, but women are still seen as a minority.

However she said it is difficult form women in their day-to –day lives to advance the gender equality when their plates are so full with managing life.

“That’s why we created Femeconomy, to generate consumer activism by showing shopping alternatives that advance gender equality. Go to Woolworths and Coles, not ALDI. Shop Dove not Johnson and Johnson. Buy Sorbent toilet paper not Kleenex. And tell your friends the reason. 

“We need to call out unconscious bias when we see it, but the first step is acknowledging was all have it.

“I often ask myself whether I am disciplining my son the same way I discipline my daughter. I need to be consciously objective. I want to make sure I am not letting him get away with things because he’s a boy. Because our bias is unconscious it takes objective reflection to realise we are doing it, and then we can take steps to correct it.

"Next time you are talking about female and male characters in a movie, be aware of how you are talking about them. Is there any unconscious bias filtering through your conversation? It is an interesting test, “she said.

When it comes to the stereotypes of women portrayed in all platforms of media and the role those stereotypes have on women’s confidence, Alanna believes the best way to squash those stereotypes is for women to use their purchasing power.

And she believes money talks. 

If women keep buying those products, they will keep stereotyping women.

“I refuse to buy magazines anymore because of the way they portray celebrities and in particular female celebrities.

“So if you are unhappy about it, take a stand and don’t buy it anymore and tell people why you have made the change.”

As a mother, wife and a woman who has traveled the world and experienced many cultures Alanna said confidence is the only attribute you need to find the courage to be who you want to be.

“Confidence gives amplification to all the wonderful things that makes you unique. It means we can reach out to others, to find help when we need it, to tell people why what we’re doing means something.

“I also think confidence gives you the courage to be vulnerable. I love that women are willing to share their vulnerabilities so we can learn from each other and make each other stronger.

Meeting other hard- working women is what inspires Alanna. She loves women who are changing the status quo of how the world works and who are improving the world and community in their own way.

“I want our daughters to have the same opportunities in this world as our sons. That any door will open to them as they and no door will be closed because they were born a girl.

“Then I think of daughters in developing countries. I want our daughters to reach out and help them to access education, safe child birth and childcare to give them the freedom from child marriage and sex trade and to enable them to live happily and safely in their communities, she said. 

TOP 3 Questions:

Q: What makes women great leaders?

A: This is very generic but I believe women leaders have an innate ability to collaborate, adapt, empathise and to influence a wide range of groups without having direct authority over them. We’ve also experienced female leaders creating a support network, not just a social network. They value reciprocal relationships. I like the idea that we are seeing a shift in leadership styles from having power over someone, to having the “power to”. To inspire, to innovate, to encourage, to influence and to create change. I think many men are also seeing the value in adopting this leadership style and are learning different skills from their female colleagues at the decision making table. That is the power of diversity of thought. It improves everyone’s skills as it broadens their experiences.

Q: If you could give your younger self advice what would it be?

A: Don’t take responsibility for mistakes that weren’t yours.

Q: Do you think women are too judgemental on who they are and how they are living their life?

A: Our capacity for reflection is very useful and helpful, but not if it spirals into negativity. I often stop myself from being embarrassed and upset for the work tasks that aren’t completed, the house is a mess and the kids are having a bad day. But then I think it isn’t right I take all this on. Yes, I need to be better at managing my time for work tasks and being realistic with what I agree to, but my husband and children can help with chores and sometimes the kids have a bad day, just like adults do. So, we need to be careful about what we are judging ourselves on. We can choose to reflect on what leads to a positive change and redirect the thoughts when we are judging ourselves too harshly. What would your best friend say about you? This question immediately changes your internal thoughts to more positive ones and I find it is a useful exercise.

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