Women’s opinions matter

I HAD no idea and was horrified that a 10-year-old Australian child could go to jail.

In July this year, I wrote my first opinion piece for the Advocate.

It was in response to learning the #RaiseTheAge campaign was calling on governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.

I felt an overwhelming urge to share why I felt the injustice of locking up a child under that age was reprehensible.

My second one is to implore women, journalists or not, to have their opinion published in the media.

I support The Sydney Morning Herald’s opinion editor Julie Lewis’ comment on International Women’s Day this year,

“As a nation, we need that surge of women’s voices, but not just on sexual assault – on every other issue worthy of public discussion as well – yet in our opinion submissions inbox women are often missing in action.”

Men accounted for 65 per cent of all opinion pieces published during May 2021 is one of the key findings in The 2021 Women for Media Report: ‘Take the Next Steps’ published by the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia.

As a female editor, I want to ensure the publishing of opinions is a level playing field.

Take a leaf from Jacquie Blackwell.

Jacqui, a mother of four and a group of her mum mates, were seriously concerned about the effect of school closures on their kids.

She contacted me in September with an opinion piece she had written.

It was a call to end the silence around the impact of Covid and lockdowns on children’s mental health, advocating for a return to face-to-face learning.

I published her stance in the Advocate, and to date, it has had 743 views.

CEO of Humanity Matters Mary Malak’s opinion piece on “Breaking down stigmas attached to overdose to transform our society” published in the Advocate has so far achieved 869 views.

When Senator Jacqui Lambie’s opinion piece, published in News Ltd.’s Sunday Telegraph in January, stated her opposition to the prosecution of current and former defence personnel accused of carrying out war crimes, it resulted in an outcry.

Yet she wanted and was entitled to have her say.

If women feel reluctant to comment on what they consider an essential topic, for fear of criticism or ridicule, remember your unique opinion is important and what ever the outcome it deserves to be shared.

All the women I know have opinions, not always ones I agree with; however, I call on them to make their views known.

One side of an argument, an assertion, or an intensely held belief can be the driver for making your opinion known.

If you feel strongly enough about it, the public, policymakers, and governing bodies need to know what you think.

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