Following last week's address from Head Master Tim Bowden, Year 12 student, Adam Chang shares his thoughts on International Woman's Day. He talks about why he thinks International Women’s Day and respecting women every day is so important. Here’s what he had to say ...
Last week was International Women’s Day. A day which is significant because it is a time where the world comes together to recognise women for their value and unnumbered contributions towards society. However, at the same time, this is also a day to acknowledge and work to eradicate the oppression and discrimination that women still face. I would like to recognise that as a male, I myself cannot understand the oppression that women face within society and therefore, cannot speak for them. I am here, merely as a part of the student body to acknowledge the hardships that women face globally.
Today is a day of reflection, when we need to raise awareness of the inequality that women face around this globe. According to the Australian Government’s human rights website, one in two women have experienced sexual harassment during their lifetime, while one in three have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of men.
In England, two women are killed by a former partner every week, in Australia, it’s one woman per week and in the US, it’s three women per day. Just because we may not have personal experience and don’t see it around us, it doesn’t mean that these things don’t happen.
In some cases, women are too afraid to speak out because they fear for their safety and in other cases, women report the abuse they receive but the situation is made light of. Recently, a college track star warned police about her ex-boyfriend six times in 10 days before he killed her.
For some of us this might seem like an issue that doesn’t affect us, but consider this… Domestic violence stems from a deep-rooted and ingrained system where the pay gap and multiple other factors passively teach boys without them realising, that girls are not equal to them. Women on average, receive 15.3 percent less in weekly wages compared to men. It doesn’t make sense for somebody to be paid less simply because of their gender while also stereotypically being expected to bear and raise a child.
Furthermore, the decrease in Australia’s female political empowerment or the representation of women in politics has consequently led to only 32 percent of women taking a position within the Australian parliament. We are now only in 48th place across the world in terms of female representation.
Yes, women nowadays do enjoy many rights that many did not decades ago. However, oftentimes we are so blindsided by everything that we have achieved, that we lose sight of how much more we still need to accomplish. In a patriarchal society where women are still oppressed, we cannot afford to just be non-sexist, we have to be anti-sexist.
We need to recognise that just because many of us are not the active perpetrators of sexism, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t responsible in some way. Being a bystander and not helping in solving such issues shows a passive attitude for these social injustices which will not help alleviate the situation. When we’re silent about an issue, we are basically allowing it to continue while telling perpetrators that such conduct is acceptable. Laughing when someone objectifies a woman, or cat-calling a girl in the street are examples of the sexism that women around the world face each day. Just because an issue doesn’t affect you, doesn’t mean that it isn’t threatening the jobs, identities and lives of others. In the end, it all just boils down to human empathy. Female rights are human rights.
So boys, how can we help? How can we contribute as the next generation to making this world a more just place? Society is constructed by those who live within it and therefore, we are a large part of the solution. Our Master of the Senior School said, “The Standard you walk past, is the standard you accept.” If we as men, show other men that conduct such as sexism is an objective issue, then they are more likely to listen, and we are one step closer to achieving equality between sexes.
We were all given life by women, and most of us were raised by women, so why should we think them as any less than equal to us if they are the ones who brought us to this world while caring and nurturing us? I would like to finish off with a quote by renowned singer John Legend, “If men care about women’s rights, the world will be a better place. We are better off when women are empowered. It leads to a better society.”
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