As women, we know we're a force to be reckoned with, yet it only takes a disheartening look at the gender pay gap statistics, or shocking news story on abortion laws, to leave us feeling otherwise.
But the good news is that it's not all bad news, and in 2019 there are plenty of inspiring new movements and trailblazers championing the female agenda and pushing forward change.
So, if you've clicked on this expecting to read the tales of some truly amazing feats, prepare to be inspired.
This year, the demand of the US women's soccer team to be paid the same as their male counterparts made headlines around the world. The rally reignited conversations about the gender wage gap that exists in women's sport and opened discussion about the adversity women face playing the sport they love.
The conversation revealed that Cricket Australia is taking some major steps to close the wage gap and is actively backing their female players. Female players are currently payed an average of $200,000 a year, a significant increase from the $79,000 they were earning just five years ago. This number is expected to rise in 2023 when pay renegotiations will take place. Considering six out of 10 young players signing up for cricket today are girls, this is a major triumph for the sport.
This July, Australian energy company AGL teamed up with Girl Geek Academy (an organisation spearheaded by 2018 Women of the Future Award winner, Sarah Moran) to pilot a bespoke program 'AGL Girls in Energy'.
The one-day workshop saw more than 70 primary school-aged children of AGL employees in Melbourne and Sydney educated in a fun and dynamic way on how energy is generated and distributed, while also building their confidence in technology, problem solving and interactive experiences.
"It's been exciting to trial an engaging and practical program that enriches the lives of the next generation of young females," says Alison Wild, AGL's General Manager of Customer Strategy and Marketing. "Down the track, we hope to expand the program to more locations and, if successful, into our communities."
Set up in 2013 by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, The Birthing In Our Community service provides women with their own mid wife and help with transport, food and financial support if needed.
The team is a multidisciplinary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce, which has also enabled women in the program to learn more about their culture and heritage. Results from research conducted on the program have shown that of the 461 women who used the Birthing in Our Community program, half reduced their risk of pre-term birth.
Child mortality is a huge issue in the Indigenous community and this program is proving a way to close that gap.
An NRL touch judge since 2014, this year Belinda Sharpe became the first top-grade female referee in the 111-year history of the NRL. Refereeing a fixture between the Broncos and Bulldogs in round 18, Sharpe described the experience as "thrilling" and felt incredibly proud of her achievement.
Her trailblazing spirit is one she hopes will inspire other women to take up refereeing and says that she has never let her gender be a barrier between her and achieving her dreams.
We're only just past the halfway mark but 2019 has already proven to be a year of massive wins for many of Australia's greatest sportswomen.
In June Queensland tennis player Ash Barty won the French Open and became Australia's first number one in 16 years. Ranked 623 in the world just three years prior, Barty's fighting spirit and humble demeanour saw her win fans around the globe and become a role model for all women determined to achieve their dreams.
Only hours before Barty's triumph, Australian surfer Sally Fitzgibbons took out the Rio Pro championship to become world number one — talk about an empowering day in sport!
Other wins worth noting include Hannah Green's victory at the Women's PGA Championship in Minnesota (a feat that made her the third Australian woman to ever win a golf major) and the Australia's women's eight crew gold medal win at the Rowing World Cup.
While it may be down to happy coincidence, many have noted that this surge in Australian female sporting achievements comes at a time where Australian female sport is finally beginning to be recognised at a greater level. New leagues such AFLW are giving female athletes a greater profile and we can't wait to see what's next.
The Australian Academy of Science has developed a new database that aims to give women in STEM a voice. The online directory, named STEM Women, aims to connect women in STEM with the public and each other in order to further develop their careers and be part of the public discourse. It will also provide a way for media organisations to get in contact with women within the industry for interviews and public engagements.
Helping to champion the next generation of women in STEM, the new initiative is providing a place where young women can find role models. Users of the database will be able to look up women in STEM based on their location and expertise, and hear their inspirational stories and advice.
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Australian Women's WeeklyJan 23, 2020