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Shivani Gopal

Shivani Gopal

August 14, 2022
| Womens Advocacy

Founder's Weekly 25th June 2021: School teaches virginity matters more than compassion; government introduces miscarriage leave & the amazing Sha’Carri Richardson

Catch up on another huge week for women in the world. We saw some big triumphs and Sydney entered into another lock down!

Fellow remarkable women,

It’s been a challenging week for those living in the Greater Sydney region, with four local government areas heading into lockdown tonight. My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the latest COVID-19 outbreak.

It’s also been confronting to see reports that boys at a Sydney private school were asked to rate girls on qualities that make them a good wife, such as virginity. 

It follows revelations last week that the majority of members of the Australian Club had voted against allowing female members. 

Such outdated attitudes to women belong in 1951, not 2021, don’t you think? 

School teaches boys to rate girls based on virginity & looks

What attributes would you want your child’s partner to possess? Sincerity, generosity and caring about the world should be top of the list, but year 10 male students at a Sydney Anglican school were taught attractiveness and virginity mattered more when seeking a wife. 

During a Christian studies class at St Luke’s Grammar the boys were given 25 points to allocate on qualities that they should look for. 

These were the number of points each were given by the teacher: 

Six points: popular, loyalty, good looking/attractive, intelligent, strong Christian, kind and considerate, virgin, trustworthy

Five points: physically fit, easy to talk to, fun/sense of humour, wise

Four points: sporty/sexy, goes to church, honest/doesn’t lie or cheat, similar interests to you, friendly

Three points: well dressed/groomed, artistic, good manners, good pedigree, ambitious goals, hard-working, great kisser, owns a car

Two points: right height, good at school, brave - stands up for rights, socially competent

One point: favourite hair colour, favourite eye colour, has money, sincere and serious, generous, adventurous, similar beliefs, cares for the world, comfortable even in quiet moments 

In a separate class, female students were given articles to read about why remaining a virgin until marriage was important.

Following outrage among students and complaints by parents, principal Geoff Lancaster sent a letter to the school community stating that the lesson contained “inappropriate slides” and telling them the teacher at the centre of the matter had resigned. 

Additionally, he announced Christian studies will be co-ed from next term and pledged to personally oversee a review of lessons.

However, it’s concerning that Lancaster said in a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald: “Despite the best efforts to teach respect, healthy relationships, gender equality, consent and inclusivity, we don’t always get it right - and last week is a good example of how the very best intentions can go terribly wrong.”

Surely rating young women shouldn’t be regarded as having “best intentions” in any circumstance? 


Australian government finally moves to legislate miscarriage leave 

The Remarkable Woman applauds two government initiatives this week aimed at giving women and their partners time to grieve after miscarriage. 

The federal government has moved to introduce legislation that includes miscarriage in compassionate and bereavement leave entitlements. Those who miscarry before 20 weeks will be entitled to two days of paid leave. The loss of a baby after 20 weeks is called a stillbirth and is covered by parental leave.

It follows the NSW government announcing this week that employees in the NSW public sector with five days paid bereavement leave if they suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Paid bereavement leave for miscarriage will be accessible to all employees covered under the Fair Work Act, and includes access to leave for partners.

Pink Elephants Support Network has been lobbying the federal government to amend the Fair Work Act for the past three years. According to the organisation, 103,000 couples each year in Australia will report an early pregnancy loss. 

PwC, Minter Ellison, QBE, and Zip Co are some of the companies that have signed on to Pink Elephants’ Fertility in the Workplace program, which aims to encourage the private sector to provide bereavement leave. 

Zip Co, for example, announced in April that it was introducing a new two-week paid leave policy to support employees who suffer a miscarriage.

This is progress!

Gibraltar eases draconian abortion laws

It’s also heartening to hear progress has been made to ease Gibraltar’s draconian abortion laws. 

The tiny British territory in southern Spain has one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. Abortions are punishable by life imprisonment, except when a woman’s life is in danger.

Gibraltarian women facing unwanted pregnancies currently go to Spain or the UK for an abortion if they can afford it; others put their lives at risk by attempting the procedure themselves.

The majority of Gibraltar’s residents are Catholic, and the bishop of Gibraltar was among those who opposed changing the abortion law.

However, in a referendum, about 62% of voters approved changes in the law that will allow abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if a woman’s mental or physical health is considered by a doctor to be at risk, or later in cases of severe foetal abnormality.

The changes will take effect in 28 days. 


Sha’Carri Richardson blazes her way to the Olympics 

I was impressed by the passion, resilience and charisma shown by US athlete Sha’Carri Richardson this week, who made headlines after qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics. 

The 21 year old won the women's 100m race at the US Olympic track and field trials with a time of 10.86 seconds. She competed with long colourful nails and vibrantly dyed hair.

USA Today reported the orange shade she sported for the race was inspired by her girlfriend, who chose the colour because it's "loud" and "dangerous".

Richardson also lost her mother a week prior to the Olympic Trials and hugged her grandmother tightly after her win. 

"My biological mother passed away and [I'm] still choosing to pursue my dreams, still coming out here, still making sure to make the family that I do still have on this earth proud," she told NBC. 

What a Remarkable woman!

Until next week,

Your remarkable life starts here.

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