MELISSA HISTON-BROWNING: Sisters must stand together

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

SUPPORT: Melissa Histon-Browning: gender equity starts with us.Equal Futures Project: Read more
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AS International Women’s Day approaches this week, around the world women are coming together to unite their many and varied voices into one strong call for gender equity for all.

We envision a world where women and girls have the rights to education, freedom of self-expression, to live in safety without fear of violence, and equity in government and the workplace.

Though it seems we have come a long way in Australia, thanks to our feminist sisters of the last century, gender equity is still an enduring issue in our society.

In today’s modern world, women appear to be blessed with choice: we can choose whether we want to get married, have a family, work, travel and so on. However, women still vie to be deemed equal to men, especially in terms of equal wages.

This issue came to worldwide attention again last week when Patricia Arquette stood on the stage of Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre to accept her Oscar for best supporting actress and used her thank you speech as an opportunity to make a passionate call for wage equality. It was only one line, but the audience cheered wildly and women around the world saluted her.

So what does gender equity look like? According to the Workplace Gender Equity Agency, gender equality is achieved when people are able to access and enjoy the same rewards, resources and opportunities regardless of whether they are a woman or a man.

We often see men as the problem for holding us back, especially in the workplace and government.

But I put this to my fellow sisters: change begins with us, not men.

Girls and women can be inextricably, injuriously mean to one another, and we’ve let it go on for far too long.

Women must start uplifting one another, treating each other more kindly and celebrating other women’s successes and wins, especially in the workplace.

It often seems that the people who are the hardest on women are other women.

On numerous occasions I’ve heard women being judgmental, bitchy and just downright nasty towards other women, especially in terms of the choices they make.

Whether it comes to mothering choices, our dietary choices, our appearance, whether we choose to have a career or not, how we perform in the workplace, women can be hyper-critical and so disapproving of each other.

Gossip and nastiness reigned at the last corporate business I worked for (a few years ago), and that was from my female boss.

Rather than being encouraging, supportive and helpful to her fellow female colleagues, she was incredibly jealous and threatened by any women in the organisation, whether that other woman was lower or higher than her in the corporate chain.

As such, she would sabotage other women, talk about them behind their backs and instigate trouble for them with their superiors. How do I know this? I shared an office space with her and she did very little to hide her thoughts and actions.

Now this is an extreme example, but I have also been witness to corridor gossip, rumour milling and covert snubbing. The office clique is truly alive and healthy.

It must stop, for how can we demand gender equity with our male counterparts when we struggle to hold each other as equals? How can we demand gender equity if we are dragging each other down?

My fellow sisters, no one is going to hand anything to us on a plate. If the decades of history have taught us anything, it is that women have to work harder than men to get where they are.

I put it to every woman, that if we want gender equity, it must start with us! If we want to rise through the corporate ranks and live in a world where there is no glass ceiling, if we want to make our mark in the world, we must encourage and boost one another. We must have each other’s backs.

Every woman should know and trust that in a place where they’re doing their best to break the glass ceiling and climb the ladder, they have nothing more than undying support and love from the other women within that space.

So next time you find out that another woman has had a pay-rise or been promoted, or received an award or commendation, don’t begrudge them. Instead, ‘‘high-five’’ them, and let their success inspire you to do the same.

If she can do it, so can you – so go for it!

Melissa Histon-Browning is founder of The Sista Code online movement to inspire women to be the best they can be and uplift each other to make a difference in the world. Visit thesistacode南京夜网. This is part of a series of opinion pieces on gender equity ahead of the Hunter Diversity Awards on International Women’s Day, Friday, March 6, at Wests New Lambton.

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