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Shivani Gopal

Shivani Gopal

August 14, 2022
| Womens Advocacy

Founder's Weekly 25th Mar 2022: Tennis star Ash Barty shows us how to stay true to your dreams

Ash Barty’s decision to resign is a lesson for us all to follow our hearts, PLUS a disturbing TikTok trend

Dear remarkable community,

While I absolutely love seeing a young woman achieve her goals on the international stage, I am also in awe of one who is able to put her own agenda and well-being first.

I am talking, of course, about World No. 1 tennis player Ash Barty, who shocked the sporting world this week by announcing her retirement from professional tennis.

Turning 26 years old at the end of April, she says now is the time to pursue other dreams and leave her immense success on the court behind.

I wish Ash Barty all the best on her new journey and thank her for inspiring so many others.

She is a shining example of not only the drive to give your best, no matter what you choose to do, but to also have the courage to be true to yourself and all your dreams.

Ash Barty retires from professional tennis to realise other dreams

She has held a tennis racket since the age of four.

Now Ash Barty says it’s time to pursue other dreams.

Announcing the decision through a video on Instagram she said she has given “absolutely everything I can to this beautiful sport of tennis and I’m really happy with that and for me, that is my success”.

Barty told her good friend, fellow tennis player Casey Dellacqua, who interviewed her on the social media post: “I’m so happy and I’m so ready and I know in my heart for me as a person this is right.”

Tennis, she said, had given her all of her dreams and more.

“But I know the time is right for me to step away and chase other dreams and put the rackets down.”

The young female athlete said she had undergone a perspective shift in the second phase of her career, after a two-year break during which she was signed by the Brisbane Heat as a starting player for the first Women’s Big Bash League season as well as Queensland Fire for the Women’s National Cricket League.

It was that success was not winning but knowing that she had given absolutely everything she could.

“I’m fulfilled, I’m happy and I know how much work it takes to bring the best out of yourself,” she told Dellacqua.

“I don’t have the physical drive or the emotional want anymore to challenge yourself as the very top of the level.

“Now it’s important that I get to enjoy the next phase of my life as Ash Barty the person, not Ash Barty the athlete. “

Barty retires having held the World No. 1 ranking for two years. She has won three grand slams including Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open.

The Ipswich-born superstar has achieved great heights – she is only the second Australian tennis player to be ranked No. 1 in the world in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association after fellow Indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

As a First Nations woman, Barty has also given her time to work with youth around the country as a National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador for Tennis Australia.

She was also recognised as the Female Sportsperson of the Year at the National Dreamtime Awards, a ceremony that honours Indigenous Australians, in both 2017 and 2018, and as the Young Australian of the Year in 2020.

Barty continues to trail blaze for her own aspirations showing us all that the unconventional is possible and that our happiness and satisfaction is what counts as we carry on day by day.

Hate speech against women proliferates on TikTok

It is difficult for me to share this story, but I believe violent misogyny needs to be called out.

TikTok is currently seeing a spate of videos that feature young men describing the ways they could kill women.

The videos begin with the word “imagine” and ends with the phrase “and you f**king die”.

They show men smiling or posing in front of the camera with the text or a song.

Even more disturbingly, some of this abhorrent content has received more than half a million likes.

And, while TikTok has taken many of the videos down, more are appearing.

Allan Ball, the director of White Ribbon Australia told reporter Emily Lefroy he was not shocked by these videos that, according to him, reinforce and emphasise “aggression and dispersed respect towards women in the most repugnant way”.

“We know as an Australian society, we have a problem,” he said.

“The solution sits with young men and with men of Australia.”

“We know Australian men and boys, in particular, hold attitudes towards women and girls that are not okay.”

Ball believes, as I do, that every corporate Australian organisation needs to take accountability for gender equality, as well as promote women’s independence, rights and safety.

That accountability begins in homes and schools too.

Please don’t share these misogynistic videos and, if you see one, report and condemn it.

If you or someone you know is impacted by family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au

Get heard by your doctor about chronic period pain

With  Endometriosis Awareness Month on the March calendar, I want all women to be heard about chronic period pain.

Endometriosis is a condition that is estimated to affect one in nine women or around 830,000 Australians, although the incidence could be higher.

That’s because it often takes years to get a correct diagnosis, with some GPs labelling pain as normal.

After years of suffering from terrible pain, It was only after I tried to get pregnant that a female doctor identified that I had severe endometriosis.

I had short, day surgery, and my life, and my long-term relationship with pain, was forever changed.

Endometriosis doesn’t only cause debilitating pain, it can lead to infertility and other medical complications, including mental health disorders.

According to  Medpage Today, scientists are on the cusp of making significant breakthroughs in identifying and better treating endometriosis, but investments in women's health research are severely lacking globally.

According to the Australian Department of Health, the Federal Government, since the release of the National Action Plan for Endometriosis in July 2018, has committed $5.77 million for endometriosis awareness and education, $661,946 for clinical management and care and $16.07 million for research.

This compares to around $1 billion the Government committed over four years to support around 1.8 million Australians with diabetes.

If you or someone you know has been putting off getting pain checked out, I urge you to see your doctor and put your health and well-being first.

Ukrainian siblings reunited

While nearly 3.5 million people have left Ukraine and 6.5 million have been displaced internally since Russia began war, two Ukrainian siblings have been lucky enough to find refuge in Australia.

Krylo, 9 and Anastasiia, 12 were reunited at Sydney airport after being separated at a Polish airport with Anastassia initially being sent to a Polish refugee camp.

Watch their heartwarming reunion, after six days,  here.

While the Australian government has issued nearly 5000 visas to Ukrainians fleeing since the Russian invasion began on February 24 – and of those visa holders more than 500 people have travelled to Australia – The Refugee Council of Australia is calling on the government to improve its humanitarian record.

“While we welcome the government’s approach to the situation in Ukraine, we are still highly concerned about the loss of more than 28,000 humanitarian visas over the past two years,” it says.

“That’s why we are calling on the government to urgently increase the quota of humanitarian visas to be restored back to 2013 pre-election level of 20,000 places, as part of the 2022 Federal Budget as well as a special intake of 20,000 places for refugees from Afghanistan.”

It says the Ukrainian initiative “provides a constructive alternative to the Australian Government’s usual approach of denying temporary access to Australia to people at risk of persecution”.

Our fellow global citizens in the Ukraine have the right to be safe, be fed, have homes, be healthy and thrive. 

It is truly devastating that, as days go by, what we continue to see is violence and mass destruction. 

My heart is with those suffering.

Be strong and follow your own path,
Shivani

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