By Chiara Bragato, year 12
During the Sydney Writers Festival a few weeks ago, Julia Gillard had an interview with Laura Tingle, an author and essayist. The discussion began with a reflection on Gillard’s famous Misogyny Speech and how Gillard felt that her gender hindered or helped her throughout her political career. Her talk also encompassed her current job, as Chair of the Board of Directors at Beyond Blue.
Her discussion was insightful, as it exposed blatant and subtler ways that gender can affect a woman’s life. When in politics, her gender often became all-encompassing as many people simply saw her as the first female PM, and nothing more. Gillard reminded the audience that whilst gender is extremely important, and the issues that arise from that are certainly prominent, it isn’t everything that a woman does, and she must be considered as a person – beyond that of their gender.
She also discussed training against unconscious bias, and revealed that this often cemented ideas as it brought them to attention, but failed to accurately deal with and provide solutions to the issue. Education in regards to gender issues is also essential, particularly focusing on the equal education of genders, as educating a generation of women improves their lives drastically, as well as being an economic imperative.
Ultimately, Gillard’s talk was extremely powerful, and provided an important reminder to women that power is often linked to gender, but being a woman can be a powerful gift.