In 2016 women were not shy about declaring what they wanted from the world. With a female on the ticket for President of the United States it appears some of the girl power might have filtered down to ordinary women in Australia who turned to the powers of online petitioning to demand social change in their own communities.
In new data rereleased from online petition site Change.org eight of the ten biggest social change victories in Australia in 2016 were all lead by female petition starters.
Collectively, concerned sections of the internet have this year swayed lawmakers, pressured supermarket giants and helped the plight of battling Aussie farmers – all by sharing their stories online and encouraging others to take action.
According to Change.org, men are 38 per cent more likely to start a petition but women are 14 per cent more likely to be victorious. It's a telling reflection of expectations of success.
The head of Head of Change.org Australia, Nathan Elvery told The Weekly that women were helping everyday citizens take the power back with grassroots activism.
"In 2016, everyday Australians proved that their personal stories can change the world,” Mr Elvery said in a statement. "With their successful petitions, Change.org users decriminalised medicinal cannabis, won $500 million in relief for dairy farmers and saved 26 lives by cutting the waiting list for a life-saving cancer operation."
Mr Elvery says that this year’s results could further show that asking for something on the internet mightn’t be so crazy when you consider the fact that many politicians are feeling the heat from online appeals.
"Online petitions have become even more influential this year: the Deputy PM, Assistant Treasurer, Health Minister and Leader of the Opposition all directly engaged with petition starters and granted their asks.”
With one in six Australians likely to have signed or started an online petition it will be good news for female participators to know that there were seven major victories for women’s equality this year – more than any other cause, except Health, on the Change.org petition's platform.
Some of the victories won by women:
After a three year battle, first started on behalf of their terminally ill son Dan, Tamworth couple Lucy Haslam, a former nurse, and Lou Haslam, a former drugs squad police officer, changed the federal law in February 2016, to decriminalise medicinal cannabis.
It ranks as the second biggest win in Change.org Australia’s history with 251k on their petition and official responses below it from all major parties.
A 16-year-old schoolgirl Chloe Scott persuaded the Deputy PM to review the milk pricing system and offer a $500m relief package for battling dairy farmers like her dad. Chloe became the ‘face’ of the campaign to tackle the dairy crisis and met with senior MPs.
Barnaby Joyce personally called Chloe and issued official responses on her petition, granting her ask and recognising her campaigning efforts.
Nicole spoke for many when she expressed her dismay at the manslaughter conviction for domestic violence perpetrator Gerard Baden-Clay.
Her petition became a place where the public could express their desire for justice for Allison. An appeal this year upgraded the conviction to murder.
Her plea began with a heartbreaking headline: "Don’t let me die waiting for cancer surgery - I’m begging you Health Minister, act now". Thankfully it was answered.
Fitness instructor and mum of 6 Galy (pictured above) was on death row for a perfectly curable cancer – because NSW Government refused to fund extra surgery places for the life-saving op she urgently needed.
Galy would’ve died on the waiting list unless it was cut. Her successful campaign saved 25 lives before Christmas, and resulted in Mike Baird calling her personally to promise she’d be operated on before it’s too late.
‘Legal rape’ supporter Rhoosh V had meetings planned in Sydney to teach men how to pick up women. Blair Williams wrote on her successful petition:
“We need to send the message that rape is not ok, that supporting a misogynist like Roosh V is not ok and that violence against women is not ok!”
It a received an official response from NSW Police.
Angelina’s successful ask that supermarket giant Aldi stop stocking caged eggs began life as a school project.
When the 16-year-old's teacher suggested it become a petition, things took off: Billboards outside Aldi, customers being shown life for chickens in cages and ultimately, Aldi agreeing to go cage-free.
When Georgia discovered a computer game encouraging the killing of Indigenous Australians, she targeted Amazon, who removed it within 24 hours of her petition being started.
When Aboriginal woman Lynette Daley was allegedly violently raped and murdered and left to die on a beach, two prime suspects escaped prosecution.
Carolyn’s petition successfully persuaded the Department of Prosecutions to charge and prosecute the two men suspected of killing her.
Yes, girl power!