I was asked to speak at the QUT Women in Law Breakfast here in beautiful Brisbane last week. The event was hosted by the completely hilarious and utterly inspiring Diversity Director for the QUT Law Society (really, the way she gave her pep-talks to her students makes me want to ask her to follow me around on work days where I need a bit of hype!). Despite being a very proud Griffith girl, I happily lapped up this gorgeous morning full of wonderful women.
The event was so seriously lovely that I want the good vies to continue here, I’m publishing the speech I gave so it can live on. I decided to speak to attendees about the practical stuff. If we are being urged to consider ‘Choose to Challenge’ as the theme of international women’s day this year, how should that actually play out? Below I cover three ways women are choosing to challenge every day in the hopes that they can inspire us all-
“You can change the world by being yourself” Yoko Ono
Being yourself is the harder route. People that live their authentic lives are empowered, passionate and can put their feet on the floor every morning and propel forward; they live to help other people have that experience.
I believe that me, my loved ones and my clients have a right to an awesome life. This means that I am me, all of the time. Being myself means I am myself in front of my clients, at Court and online- I am happy with me, so I don’t have different versions of myself. I strive to make practice better, and question conventions, by being me.
I encourage everyone to consider that being their full selves is going to make the world a better place. There is room in the law for everyone.
“Just because you carry it well, doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy” Unknown
Uni, and practising as a lawyer, isn’t easy for everybody. There are people all around you, every day that have made an incredible sacrifice to be here and feel like they are constantly pushing to stay here. I believe that there are people everywhere that are choosing to challenge just in the act of entering and staying in the law.
I was the first in my family to go to university and there are lots of other things about me that mean it wasn’t a super obvious thing that I’d go on to become a lawyer. That being said, I have so much privilege and I know that there are so many people out there fighting huge odds to enter the legal profession.
It takes all types for a healthy and robust justice system to operate, the legal industry needs people like you. Whether you need to say it to yourself, or you can think of someone you know who would benefit from hearing it, I believe we should all spread the message that- ‘you can be anything you set your mind to!’ This way, we can choose to challenge.
“I always thought ‘why doesn’t somebody do something about that?’ and then I realised I am somebody” Lily Tomlin
Lastly, I believe that lots of little examples of advocacy can change the world. What you say by the water cooler, at the dinner table and in the lunch room, matters.
We know by watching the news cycle that there are so many out there who need a little help being heard. We know that a women’s experience of justice depends on society’s attitudes of the day.
Those with privilege are the ones who can afford to speak up, and should. Even the tiniest piece of advocacy from you, even if it’s pushing back on a comment in the lunch room that is not okay or correcting someone at the watercooler who has an inappropriate take on something, can make all the difference.
I hope that these examples of how women everywhere are choosing to challenge can inspire you to live the IWD theme this year. How lucky we are to be women as we are surrounded by other women!