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The Glass Ceiling Isn't Going To Break Itself

If we want to get things done we have to go out and do them.

15/11/2016 5:37 AM AEDT | Updated 15/11/2016 9:11 AM AEDT
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Rather than lamenting the situation, get involved.

So Donald Trump won the US election and we didn't see it coming, or for some we didn't want to see it coming. Young women like myself hoped for change, but this wasn't the change we hoped for. It wasn't just that we wanted a woman, it was that we didn't want that particular man in the job.

Either way it's happened and here in Australia some people are feeling anxious about what a Trump-led America looks like and what it means for them. Nevertheless, the desire to bury our heads in the sand and disengage is strong but it's the wrong approach.

Millions of Americans didn't vote. In fact, only just over half of voting-aged Americans bothered to exercise their much-vaunted democratic right. The rest may have said they supported a particular party or candidate but didn't make the effort to vote. Maybe they felt like their vote didn't really matter, that it wouldn't have an impact. Maybe they believed the polling that got it oh so wrong. But imagine how different the outcome might have been if just 10 percent more people had acted.

In Australia (thankfully) we have compulsory voting, so most of us manage to vote -- but for the vast majority, their engagement ends there. That means if you're part of the minority who gets involved, you can make a difference. You can take the issues that matter to you and shine a light on them.

The American election brought into sharp focus gender inequity in politics and the Australian political landscape is not that far removed. It is only four years since Julia Gillard's famous misogyny speech in the Australian Parliament and little has changed since.

So rather than lamenting the situation, now, more than ever, it is time for people to get involved. Sitting at home feeling alienated is not a solution that will make things better, only action will make things better.

As Hillary Clinton herself said in her concessions speech: "This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it."

So let's fight, let's turn our anger into action. What can individuals do to impact positive changes? Michael Moore came out with his Morning After To-Do List, which has become an internet sensation and provides ideas for Americans... but what can we do here in Australia?

Get involved

If you're passionate about an issue, whether it is climate change, global health or gender inequity for women and girls here and around the globe, find a way to become actively involved in the issue. Write letters, attend information events, march, write to your local paper or politicians. Do more than say you care about it -- act for it.

Reach out

You're not alone. There are plenty of passionate, committed people like you who care about the political landscape, so reach out to them. Find your tribe, they're out there. You can make a difference alone but you can make an even bigger difference if you join with others and work together.

Get to know your local member

In Australia, we have 226 federal politicians elected to serve us. Their job is to represent the views, opinions and needs of their electorates. Does your local member know what your views are? Now's the time to let them know what matters to you.

Make the media accountable

The coverage of our political landscape isn't always even. Not in its treatment of the issues, the parties or even the members. There are lots of committed, hardworking parliamentarians out there -- but how many get any real media traction? Why do we all, for example, know Pauline Hanson's name, but not the names of the vast majority of our other female politicians? Why does one Senator get so much traction? Why don't the issues we care about get the same kind of attention? Let's change that by writing to the papers or ringing in to radio programs and bringing key issues to light.

If we want to get things done we have to go out and do them -- that glass ceiling won't break itself.

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