I was fortunate to grow up with the belief that I could be anything I wanted career wise. If I worked hard, studied hard then my limits were only those intrinsic to me not those placed on me by the world. It didn't occur to me that being a girl meant I couldn't. I did everything the boys did - jumped off rocks, had adventures, took risks. I certainly have the scars to prove that sometimes I didn't bounce. It wasn't because I was a girl, usually it was because I took 1 risk too many. As I got older I grew in confidence and in my abilities. I was recognised as a leader, as a strong woman, and a role model. Being female certainly didn't seem to be holding me back any.
Currently in Australia there are a lot of conversations in the public space about women's safety especially with relation to sexual safety. There are conversations about the sexualisation of women and girls. There are conversations about the language that men and the wider community in general use to describe women and violence against women. These conversations let me to reflect that even though I thought that I had not been held back in life because I am a woman, I had in fact had to modify my behaviour at times to remain safe. I have also been guilty of victim blaming. I did chose to stay home for the most part when my children were small. I did have experiences when I was not safe or was at risk - not because I had done anything wrong, but because other people could not be trusted. Taken en-mass, these choices and situations indicate that my gender has impacted my freedom, safety and choices.
As I spent time thinking about what it is to be a woman, to be a woman in a position of leadership, my thoughts went back to International Women's Day. It is not just an excuse to get frocked up and recognise women of achievement. It is not just women in other countries and cultures that need us to defend them. International Women's Day is crucially important to women all over the world to highlight our achievements and to place the spotlight on things that hold us back.