Check against delivery
I would like to acknowledge we meet on the lands of the Ngunnawal people, and I wish to pay my respects to their elders both past and present.
I would also like to acknowledge and welcome other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here with us today.
I’m so thrilled to join you at today’s Women’s March.
This is one of the first marches to take place since the inauguration of the 45th US President.
Today we march in solidarity with women in the United States and across the world to show that women’s rights are human rights, and that we demand they continue to be protected and valued in our society.
100 years ago, American suffragettes marched on the White House to demand the right to vote.
Soon after those protests, suffrage was granted.
Now, women are again marching on Washington and around the world.
This time we are standing up and fighting for the protection of the very rights that were secured by those remarkable women over a century ago.
We know that the Canberra community strongly believes that women have an important role to play in society and in politics.
I am proud to be a Member of the 9th Legislative Assembly which made history by becoming the first Parliament in Australia to have a majority of women elected.
While this is a huge step forward for equal representation in our community, there is still a long way to go.
I am reminded of a story that our Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Women, Yvette Berry once told me.
And as an aside Yvette sends her apologies that she can’t be here today, those of you who know her will know that she loves nothing more than a good rally, and to have the chance to stand alongside sisters and brothers to make noise for an important cause.
The story Yvette told me was about Carrie Graf, former coach of the Canberra Capitals basketball team.
When Carrie was at school, and despite being the best cricket player in her year, she was told that she couldn’t play on the school’s rep team.
When she asked why she couldn’t play – she was told it was because she was a girl.
Carrie’s story may sound trivial to some, but it is a classic example of the sexism faced by young women and girls.
It’s being told we can’t achieve our dreams for no other reason than the fact we are women.
These attitudes and prejudices against women lead to the normalisation of sexism and misogyny in our society.
Let me ask you this –
Is this what we want for our daughters?
Is this what we want for ourselves?
The fact is we still live in a world where men and women are not being supported equally with opportunities like playing for the sporting team of their choice or even pursuing their dream career.
And fighting for our rights is not about creating competition between genders. It’s simply about fairness and everyone being provided with equal opportunity regardless of gender.
If we wish to achieve a truly fair and equal society, women must be respected and be in positions where their voices are heard.
We must continue to support and empower women to take up positions of leadership in politics, the private sector and within our community.
Opportunities like today’s march allow us a chance to refresh and re-energise our focus and commitment to achieve equality.
Let’s march together today for the respect that we all deserve.