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Inspiring hope through ‘counter pessimism’

Scenes from the Women’s March in Sydney on 21 January 2017.

In these restless times, it’s natural to feel a sense of uncertainty about our future, and the future of our society. I know that this is something I have felt. At Xplore, we’re choosing to focus on some of the actions, campaigns, and conversations that have impacted us in a positive way, interrupting feelings of pessimism, and paving the way for a more optimistic view of the future. Let’s call it ‘Counter Pessimism’.

Here are a few things that have given me cause for optimism in recent times:

  • Women’s Marches held around the world on 21 January, where ‘We stood together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families’, have kick-started an international campaign of ‘10 actions/100 days’.
  • An increased focus on female entrepreneurs means that women now account for 24% of start-ups, with many of the founders aged 30 to 45. Initiatives such as SheStarts and Springboard Australia offer advice, support and funding to female entrepreneurs.
  • A growing interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and in raising Australia’s digital literacy, offers many new job opportunities and initiatives to support women to move into these areas.
  • At last the sports pages and TV are showing some women’s sport, including the netball, AFL, cricket, basketball and Australia’s national football team, the Westfield Matildas. Last week, 16-year-old Riley Day ran a fabulous race in the Nitro Athletes.
  • For the past 12 months I have sat on the Independent Advisory Board working to address workplace sexual discrimination and sexual harassment at Victoria Police. I have been impressed with the commitment to change since the report was published in December 2015.
  • Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin launched the GO Foundation for 2017 on 6 February, with new CEO Shirley Chowdhary and patron Linda Burney MP. The foundation offers scholarships to Indigenous young people, to encourage them to finish high school and go to university. The launch featured a fabulous young Indigenous singer, Sebastian, who performed at the Schools Spectacular in 2016, and speaker Noah who is starting Arts/Law at UNSW next month. It was a truly inspiring evening.

2017 is sure to present us with many challenges, but if we actively look for ways to counter pessimism in the face of these challenges, a sense of hope will help see us through.

Diana Ryall

Diana is a leading voice and advocate for Gender Equality in Australia and Founder of Xplore.
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