Yasmin Poole: Youth Advocate and Plan International Australia Ambassador
It couldn't be a more important time. In light of everything that's happened in the past year and a half, with the pandemic, the story of Brittany Higgins stepping forward and the movement of women calling for decision-makers to hear our voices, it is absolutely a crucial time to make noise and to show all of Australia that our voices matter and count.
Receiving the Youth Influencer of the Year award from the Martin Luther King Jr Centre was something I could never, ever have anticipated. Being able to speak about my work around young women of colour here in Australia to individuals like Bernice King, who is the daughter of Martin Luther King … it's hard to describe exactly what that feels like.
Julie Bishop: Australian National University Chancellor and Former Foreign Minister
I've had many mentors throughout my professional career, but I guess my mother was a source of great inspiration and support and mentorship for me. She impressed upon me that it was not necessary to limit my ambitions, and to dream big and aim high.
When I was Foreign Minister, there were a number of times when I feared for my physical safety. We're seeing the scenes from Afghanistan at present. I was in Kabul after a car bomb had gone off just outside where our troops were stationed and there was great concern about me being
in Kabul at that time.
I learned not to let others define who I am and what I can achieve. To not let others put limits on my ambitions.
Narelda Jacobs: Network 10 presenter and journalist
When I think back to when I was starting out, we saw a lot of people in suits. Every time a man in a suit walked in, you thought, they must be the boss, or they must know what they're talking about.
The biggest lesson is don't underestimate anyone. How many times have we been in a room where the best idea has come from the person you would least think? That's where leadership comes from, to be able to break the mould. As women, and as young women, we are the other side of that.
Tanya Plibersek: Federal Shadow Minister for Education and Women
It's really important for young women to take on leadership positions because we know organisations do better when they're more representative of the Australian community. Young women have so much to contribute to our society, to our economy, to our community.
I've been really lucky all through my life. When I was just a teenager, I was at an event for International Year of Youth and I was speaking on behalf of my school when a lady walked up to me and said, 'I really agreed with what you said and I think you should consider joining the Australian Labor Party'.
Nicole Byers: Editor-in-Chief of The Australian Women's Weekly and group Publisher Women's Lifestyle & Food at Are Media
It feels like the world is at a massive crossroads. The pandemic has shifted things dramatically and, unfortunately, we know it is women who are being hardest hit economically.
For me, letting go of fear was the biggest lesson I had to learn. To stop playing it safe and have a crack. Self-doubt can be crippling, but once I learned to silence, or at least quieten, my inner critic I stopped letting every setback or mistake (and there have been a few!) derail me.
Caterina Nesci: Director of ESG and International Partnerships at La Trobe Financial
I'm learning more and more each day that we think there are barriers, but when you're good at what you do and believe in what you're doing, those barriers seem to disappear. There are people around you who want you to succeed.
Whenever you take risks, your gut feeling will help you. It helps you build the confidence you need to get through the journey. It also doesn't matter if you don't succeed at first. Keep trying. It's important for women to take chances and make their dreams come true.
Ita Buttrose: AC OBE Chair of the ABC
I welcome the opportunity to encourage women to make a difference. These are women who have a big dream and they go after it, and that is inspirational for everyone else.
I'm always amazed by the incredible projects these women are doing. It's very exciting. A researcher, Georgia Richards, was the 2016 winner. Her aim was to improve the quality of life for people with chronic pain, especially Australian military veterans.
Well, my children, of course! The next achievement I'm most proud of is joining The Australian Women's Weekly when I was 15 years old. It was the best decision I ever made. I started as low as you can, as a copy girl, which means I was a messenger.