International Women's Day 2018: Women and girls talk about overcoming the pressure from within

TAKING STEPS: Year 12 students Breanna Dewson and Naarah Rahui want to go to univeristy. Photo: Gareth Gardner 080318GGA07
TAKING STEPS: Year 12 students Breanna Dewson and Naarah Rahui want to go to univeristy. Photo: Gareth Gardner 080318GGA07

WOMEN win battles everyday.

You could say there’s conflict at every turn.

Whether it’s being a survivor, a fighter and a nurturer at the same time.

Or it could be defying and dismantling conventions, all the while ensuring you’re building up others and leaving behind an expansive road map of paths for the next generation to follow.

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It might standing in the thin blue line between crime and the unbeknownst community only to “clock-off” at the end of the day to go home and take care of a family.

Everyone has their battles.

International Women’s Day helped share those stories across many towns with celebratory breakfasts, morning teas, lunches, forums and conferences.

Young and old and across a range of jobs, a common enemy was being fought within, every day of the year.

‘Pressure to prove myself’

Kylie Endemi is a Chief Inspector with Oxley police and has worked in the force for 24 years.

On International Women’s Day, she spoke to the Oxley High Girls Academy, a program designed to ensure Aboriginal girls finish Year 12 and find post school work or study.

CALL TO ARMS: Guest speakers and students from the Oxley High Girls Academy International Women's Day event. Photo: Gareth Gardner 080318GGA006

CALL TO ARMS: Guest speakers and students from the Oxley High Girls Academy International Women's Day event. Photo: Gareth Gardner 080318GGA006

She acknowledged her start with the force had been made easier by the women who had come before.

As a highly ranked local policewoman, she saw part of her role as making it a little bit easier for the women to follow.

Inspector Endemi said the main challenge she faced when she joined the force came from within.

APPREHEND SELF DOUBT: Chief Inspector Kylie Endemi, Sergeant Mel Roberts, Detective Senior Constable Rebecca McKenzie, with local land council employer Samantha Duncan and singer-songwriter Kelsey Iris. Photo: Gareth Gardner

APPREHEND SELF DOUBT: Chief Inspector Kylie Endemi, Sergeant Mel Roberts, Detective Senior Constable Rebecca McKenzie, with local land council employer Samantha Duncan and singer-songwriter Kelsey Iris. Photo: Gareth Gardner

“I think the feeling you place upon yourself that there’s an extra pressure to prove yourself, to prove yourself as just as able as your male colleagues that you work with everyday,” she said.

“The fact that there wasn’t a lot of women back then, so there wasn’t a lot of that female support network that we are blessed with now.

“Whilst I felt pressure, I think a lot of that was myself placing that on me, as opposed to anybody else doing that.

“It’s certainly a lesson I’ve learnt through my career that you need to remove that pressure you place on yourself because we can do absolutely everything that the blokes can.”

She said policing obviously wasn’t a career for everyone, but she said there was a message for all of the girls, regardless of what path they chose.

“There are no barriers for anyone who has that drive,” she said.

Have the mindset to get it

Year 12 academy students Breanna Dawson and Naarah Rahui both have their hearts set on university.

Neither believe it’s a necessity to go to uni, but it’s the path they’ve chosen.

Breanna, who wants to go into psychology and criminology, said International Women’s Day was about recognising the ability to go farther than your preconceptions could allow.

“Women go into all different occupations, it’s not just the low-paying jobs that they can go into,” she said.

“They have as many opportunities to do something they want to do instead of doing something they think they have to do.”

Naarah, who’s keen to pursue architecture and personal training, said the day was about recognising how far women had come and also how having the right mindset was key.

“It recognises what women in the past have done for us to get to the point we are,” she said.

“But, where we can continue on from there to make a change for women to empower them even more to make a change, even in a community of say 10 people, one woman can change that.

“I got out that anything is possible even if you don’t see yourself from little kid doing it or even now, you could possibly do something that you thought was out of your league.

“It does show you can do this, you can go there and get that degree, you just have to have the mindset to get it.”

‘We’re survivors’

EMPOWERING: Elder Yvonne Kent was named the Tamworth electorate's 2018 local woman of the year which she said proved age was no barrier. Photo: Gareth Gardner

EMPOWERING: Elder Yvonne Kent was named the Tamworth electorate's 2018 local woman of the year which she said proved age was no barrier. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Aboriginal elder Yvonne Kent was named the Tamworth electorate’s woman of the year this week which she wanted to be a message to women to cast aside any idea of age being a barrier.

“To me, it means a lot in the area of you’re never too old to get out there and achieve what you want to do,” she said.

“At any age, you can achieve what you want.”

This year’s NAIDOC Week’s theme is “Because of her, we can” 

“So, because of the women before me and the women I look up to now we can achieve whatever we want,” she said.

Aunty Yvonne said “being a woman, it can be one of the most powerful and empowering things”.

“Because we’re survivors, we’ve been surviving for 40,000 years as one of the oldest living cultures,” she said.

“That’s the biggest thing, we are survivors and as a single mum I survived.”

Susan Ring meets a different type of survivor everyday in her line of work as a domestic violence court advocate.

The advocates are “supporting more clients than ever before” across the state and in the New England region. The service provided help to 1234 clients in the region in 2017, more than three women a day.

“Domestic violence is not discerning,” Ms Ring said.

“There’s no demographic it does not touch.”

Undoubtedly a challenging job, she said the reward was in offering support to women, not to find their voice, but use it effectively.

“The greatest reward is restoring dignity to vulnerable women,” she said.

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