Katherine teenager Shanae Klaas has touched down in Canberra to rub shoulders with Australia’s top politicians and business influencers today.
Ms Klaas will join 14 other rural and remote teenage trailblazers who were hand picked to take part in the fourth annual Country to Canberra ‘Power Trip’.
Ms Klaas will meet with the likes of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann and the first-ever female Chair of the National Farmers’ Federation, Fiona Simson.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to represent my community and take my leadership skills to the next level,” Ms Klaas said.
Joining Ms Klass is Nhulunbuy student Lara Stimpson.
“I am excited to learn from inspiring female leaders, especially on issues like gender equality and rural affairs,” 15-year-old Lara Stimpson said.
Country to Canberra CEO Hannah Wandel sais it’s all about empowering young women with the skills and opportunities to help them overcome gender and geographical barriers to success.
“They’ll be attending a Powerful Women’s Breakfast at the Hyatt Hotel, having a VIP lunch at Parliament hosted by the likes of Senator Anne Ruston, Janet Rice and Pauline Hanson, and will be guests of honour at an inspiring networking event tonight MC’d by Canberra personality Kristen Henry,” Ms Wandel said.
“We still have a severe gender imbalance in our political leadership, and just 5.5 per cent of CEOs in our top ASX 200 companies are women. We need to generate a conversation about gender equality and be proactive about solutions.
“The girls come from all over Australia – from Arnhem Land in the NT to Karratha in WA – and are winners of Country to Canberra’s prestigious national 2017 Leadership Competition about equality.
“Distance, time and funding barriers make accessing education and career opportunities tough for rural and remote students. We need to ensure no matter where you’re from, what gender you are, or what your background is, we’re giving you the tools to succeed,” Ms Wandel said.
The group, which includes three Indigenous students, has also undertaken an entire day of leadership training at the Australian National University, on topics like public speaking, leadership values and self-care.
“After this week finishes they’ll also receive a long-term mentor to help them achieve their dreams.” Ms Wandel said.
Shanae’s winning entry
From primary school to Prime Minister, how can we create strong pathways to power for women?
How can we create strong pathways to power for women? As generations have passed, females have struggled throughout history, from the first gender equality movement in the twentieth century, to now. Although we have progressed greatly over the years in making men and women more equal, we still haven’t reached the aspirations and goals that many females, including myself, hope to achieve. To be able to create strong pathways to power for women is one of the many issues that needs to be addressed.
In today’s society, there are many platforms and resources available to us that can help to create strong pathways for women. We have access to emancipating communications such as social media and worldwide broadcasting. We have the power to better education than that of many before us, and the ability to make a change. We need not just raise the awareness of a single person, but many, as an idea can change the world. Opportunities, such as the opportunity that I have now, need to be made abundant to young women all over the world, to help them grow as a person and succeed in the future.
Being female, I have experienced the inequality and little diversity in areas such as education and opportunities. As for employment and pathways, stereotypically women are classified as domestic workers and/or lower income earners. Some examples include cleaning, hairdressing, office work and childcare. On the other hand men are classed as the “bread-‐winners” who work in higher paid positions such as medicine, engineering, construction and mechanics, just to name a few. Why is it that women are expected to clean, cook and care for children? Why can’t women become engineers or mechanics or even the prime minister?
As a young woman aspiring to become an engineer, I will fight for women’s equality and diversity in education and I will encourage and support other young women to chase their dreams even if they are told they will not succeed.
As many generations before us, who have fought for equal power and rights, we have developed into more resilient, persistent, independent and empowered women. If this movement is to persist, I would like to see the government present new prospects to our future generation of women including leadership conferences, better access to our countries prominent leaders, affordable university and a greater focus on disadvantaged young women living in rural and remote Australia.