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Shivani Gopal

Shivani Gopal

November 26, 2021
| Womens Advocacy

Founder's Weekly: Madam Vice President, Amanda Gorman, Australian of the Year & South Korea’s advice for pregnant women

Here's what you need to know about women in the world this week.

Fellow remarkable women,


What a week it’s been! 

We’ve seen history unfold right before our eyes with yesterday’s inauguration of the newest POTUS which means much needed changes are finally afoot.

We’ve also seen some fantastic news for females from Aussie shores and some mind-boggling pregnancy advice come out of South Korea…

I wish you all a fabulous weekend wherever in the world you are.

Congratulations Madam Vice President

Since 1789, America has been a country run by wealthy, heterosexual, white men. 

Yesterday, this changed. Kamala Harris became the first woman, Black American and South Asian American to take the vice presidential oath of office.

The daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, Harris has long been an example to look up to. She was the Black district attorney in California, the first Black and South Asian American attorney general in California, and most recently as the first South Asian American woman and second Black woman in U.S. Senate history.

Since her nomination, Harris campaigned almost exclusively to communities of colour, highlighting her Indian and Jamaican heritage, her historically Black university alma mater and membership in the historically Black Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Not only that, but she did so in the face of racist and sexist attacks from the right, including the constant and often deliberate mispronunciation of her name.

And let’s not forget the time when she asserted her expertise and authority when she repeated “I’m speaking” during the vice presidential debate.

Harris continues to smash colossal barriers as she becomes Vice President of the United States and a true role model for young girls and women of colour everywhere.

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”

“There is new light. If only we're brave enough to see it.”

Those of you who caught the presidential inauguration would have been privileged to hear the amazing words spoken by poet, Amanda Gorman. At the age of 16, she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of LA. In 2017, she was named the first US National Youth Poet Laureate. And yesterday, at the young age of 22, this Los Angeles resident became the youngest poet in US history to mark the transition of presidential power. 

Her poem ‘The Hill We Climb’, was a stirring call to action that conjured up memories of speeches by Martin Luther King Jr, John F Kennedy and other great speakers.

But one thing is certain: if we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and changes our children's birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left. With every breath from a bronze, pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the golden hills of the west. We will rise from the wind-swept north-east where our forefathers first realised revolution.

We will rise from the cities of the midwestern states. We will rise from the Sun-baked south. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.

If you haven’t heard it yet, I strongly urge you to do so. You can also read her poem in full here.

Australian Women of the Year

The 2021 Australian of the Year is soon to be announced, and I’m excited to note that of the 8 finalists, 5 are women! Here’s what you need to know about these remarkable women:

Donna Stolzenberg: Victoria

Founder and CEO, the National Homeless Collective, Donna is a proud indigenous woman. The National Homeless Collective (NHC) is a grassroots Australian organisation that helps people affected by homelessness, domestic violence and social disadvantage. Under Donna’s direction, NHC has created six sub-charities targeting different issues – Period Project, School Project, Plate Up Project, Sleeping Bags for Homelessness, and Secret Women's Business. It also runs Kala Space, an op shop employing women affected by domestic abuse or homelessness.

Tanya Hosch: South Australia

An advocate for Indigenous advancement, Tanya Hosch has held leadership roles in sports, the arts and public policy. She is the first-ever Indigenous person and the second woman to join the AFL's executive team, which came after her work in the Recognise Movement for constitutional reform. Under her leadership the AFL is transforming – advancing women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, gender-diverse Australians and the entire community.

Dr Wendy Page: Northern Territory

A global expert in Aboriginal health, Dr Page has been dedicated to improving Aboriginal health outcomes for over 30 years. She has worked to highlight and eliminate a parasitic roundworm prevalent in Aboriginal communities across Northern Australia, and also set up the first national workshop for strongyloidiasis, a disease caused by the Strongyloides worm.

Professor Helen Milroy: Western Australia

Australia’s first Indigenous medical doctor, Helen Milroy is also an artist, author and has served as a commissioner in the royal commission into child sexual abuse (talk about well rounded!). For more than 25 years, Helen has been a pioneer in research, education and training in Aboriginal and child mental health, and recovery from grief and trauma.

Grace Tame: Tasmania

Grace is an advocate for survivors of sexual assault and the #LetHerSpeak campaigner. From age 15, Grace was groomed and raped by her 58-year-old maths teacher. However, under Tasmania’s sexual-assault victim gag laws, she couldn’t legally speak out about her experience – despite the perpetrator and media being free to do so. Assisted by the #LetHerSpeak campaign, who applied to the Supreme Court on Grace's behalf, Grace won the right to publicly self-identify as a rape survivor.

South Korean women hit back

For the past couple of years, the Seoul city government website has shared some “handy tips” for pregnant women.

  • Before giving birth, check that your family has sufficient toilet paper.
  •  
  • Prepare instant foods like curry, black bean paste and soup, so the husband, who's unfamiliar with cooking, will be able to conveniently use them.
  •  
  • Buy a hairband so that you don’t look dishevelled, as you won't be able to wash your hair for a while.
  •  
  • After the baby arrives, keep a “small-size” dress in sight — you’ll need motivation not to take that extra bite.
  •  
  • Hang the clothes you wore before you were pregnant in a place where they are easy to see as that will motivate you to keep your weight under control and go back to the same weight you were before you gave birth.

The guidelines were published online by the city government’s pregnancy and childbirth information centre, which opened in 2019. Although they had been taken down, they were recently reposted on January 5 and, as you can imagine, faced immediate backlash.

"Seoul city's guideline for pregnant women is disgusting."

"It's not even any individual that posted it, it's Seoul city's Pregnancy and Childbirth Information Center...I wonder what they think of women and pregnant women."

"The person who wrote that, the one who revised it, even the Seoul city manager who posted it. They're all mad."

Although it’s since been deleted, the debacle has re-energised the debate in South Korea around how women are viewed in society. South Koreans have started a petition asking that the official responsible for the mind-boggling post be punished and make a public apology. 

Until next week,

Shivani

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