She can lead: young people in Australia share their views on women in politics and leadership

13 Oct 2017

Plan International works with girls in countries as far away as Rwanda and as close as Timor-Leste, supporting girls to lead their way out of poverty, inequality and injustice. We know the transformative power that girls can have when they become leaders in their communities and their countries.

That’s why we have commissioned this survey of young Australians, to gauge their beliefs and feelings about young women leading and participating in public life, particularly around gender inequality.

For transformative change to take place, gender equality must become a key social and political issue, and power holders must use their authority to challenge the deeply held attitudes that perpetuate misogyny, waste talent and impoverish all our lives.

Around the world, girls are too often held back from power. Some are denied the chance to go to high school, others are forced to marry as teenagers, and many are told that only boys are allowed to become CEOs or Prime Ministers.

But girls are also the ones breaking down these barriers, smashing gender stereotypes in their homes and communities, fuelling the global movement towards gender equality and proving that they can do anything. When we listen to these girls, we change the world.

That’s where this report comes in. It’s time to listen to what Australian young people have to say about leadership and public life. Do young women aspire to leadership? Do they even care about politics? And what obstacles do they feel are in the way of girls and young women leading?

This survey is unique in that it captures the views of girls as young as 10, who are rarely given a voice in public life, through to young women up to 25. The age range gives an insight into how, as girls get older, they see more inequality around them and experience it themselves, and this affects their ambitions.

Specifically, this report finds that girls want to lead, but they’re too often lacking confidence in their abilities. They don’t believe they’ll have the same opportunities that boys do. They see a career in politics as being incompatible with being a mother. Day in and day out, they witness women leaders being treated unfairly in the media, or talked over in parliament, or judged for their looks rather than their abilities. It chips away at their confidence and they start to believe that because of their gender, they won’t be able to achieve their dreams.

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