The Young Women’s Leadership Program run by the City of Monash in partnership with Monash Youth Services was a fun-filled, inspirational and motivational 10-week course. Through the discussions and activities related to topics such as Health, Confidence, Public Speaking, Leadership and Business, it was certainly an eye-opener to some of the injustices and prejudices that still exist with women and especially young women in our community. I, along with 12 amazing young women were challenged to think of ways to overcome these inequalities, starting with minor things we can do with our social groups in our school/university environment.
One of my most memorable moment was conducted in the first week of the course. We were asked to pick two values that meant something to us – I chose family and being goal-oriented, and one value that we wanted to improve on – confidence. I had always known that these values are the ones I place significant importance and wish to enhance. Throughout the next 9 weeks, I noticed how frequently I would go back to these values to shape my opinion on the relevant topic we were discussing. This allowed me to introspect deeply on my values and what they mean for me as a young woman and human in this exciting yet challenging world. I am forever grateful and thankful for this course and its’ expert facilities, and I highly recommend this 10-week experience to all young women!
(18 years old - 1st year Law(Honours)/Arts student at Monash University)
Walking into the Oakleigh Seminar and Training Centre, I felt incredibly overwhelmed. A bright and bubbly character yelled ‘Hello!’ at me and I nearly jumped out of my skin. That was Siobhan. The facilitator of the Young Women’s Leadership Program, who I would grow to love and idolise over the gruelling three days of the Program. At first, the hours of 9am to 4pm seemed so long, especially as it was running over three days and I was dreading it. However, I would actually miss waking up to chat with our squad about the issues that are at the bottom of society regarding female empowerment. These issues should not be on the bottom any longer. They should be at the surface, making waves and crashing over us like a tsunami.
Being able to discuss topics such as gender equality, women in power, leadership, relationships, mental health and money management puts the power back into our hands and we, as young females, get to decide how we go about advocating and driving change for these topics. We can go back to school, to our communities, to our friends and discuss and empower both girls and boys to make change and to work together as equals in society. Where women won’t be overlooked for the biggest positions in the world as CEOs, presidents and chairwomen and where their worth will be recognised not just for their looks but for their character and intelligence.
The Young Women’s Leadership Program has educated me about many things that my 10 years of formal schooling has not, but the most important thing it has taught me is to never be afraid to speak up for the things I believe in. I will be assisting my peers to succeed and to never doubt themselves, and going to an all-girls school has only solidified this promise. By being the catalyst to create rippling effects that turn into waves, these waves will cover Victoria, then Australia to the world. And the event that started the catalyst was the Young Women’s Leadership Program. Thank you, Siobhan and Divya for changing the lives of myself and the other ‘gurls’ in the Program.
The future is female. And I am proud to be a part of that future.
By Kamalinee Kamalakaran