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Celebrating International Women’s Day

Meet some of our remarkable young women in Catholic schools living life to the fullest and planning to make a difference in the world. These inspiring young women share their thoughts on gender equality, the strength and future of women, their faith, and how adults might better support their hopes and dreams.


Elite netballer Malia Harrison urges women to keep challenging society 

Year 11 Merici College student Malia Harrison plays netball for the ACT U17 team, the 15s Australia team, is a junior netball coach and aspires to be a physiotherapist playing netball internationally in the future.

Malia moved to Canberra from her homeland of New Zealand with her family on a Defence posting and hopes to one day play for New Zealand national netball team The Silver Ferns.

As a woman, Malia feels empowered and hopes that women keep challenging society in an effort to make change.

“Women don’t have as many opportunities as males, especially in the sports industry when it comes to equal pay and broadcasting,” she said.

Malia wants adults to continue to provide young women with the support and opportunities that they need in order to grow together as a society.

“On International Women’s Day I would urge all women to dare to dream and achieve what you want and don’t let anyone hold you back,” she said.


Entrepreneur Natasha Silver will be flying high

Year 12 Merici College student Natasha Silver has been a small business owner since age 10, employs staff in her party entertainment business, is a dance teacher and wants to be a pilot in the Australian Defence Force.

“For me being a woman is about expressing yourself and not being afraid to push boundaries, doing what you love, and being yourself,” she said.

Natasha said she is grateful to have the opportunity to become a pilot in a society that disregards stereotypes and boundaries and instead supports women to purse their goals.

“I think that in today’s society we’re getting better at giving women the same opportunities as men,” she said.

“There’s room for improvement, but we’re getting there.”

For International Women’s Day Natasha’s message is simple – don’t hold back.


Lucy Sugerman inspires women through music

Singer-songwriter Lucy Sugerman has been performing since she was 9-years-old, made it to the grand finals of The Voice and wants to evoke emotion and inspire others through her music.

The Arts and Culture Captain at St Clare’s College hopes that the future of the music industry is a safer place for women, and that women receive the recognition and opportunities that they deserve.

“Being a woman for me is being someone who’s fearless, strong and hard working,” she said.

“Being a woman is what I am, but I think women today are becoming more able to do what they want and more able to create their own destiny.”

Lucy said that adults need to be more open to the fact that young women have big ideas for the future and are more educated than they’ve ever been.

“I think women of the future will be able to control their own destiny and be able to make the difference to the world that they want to make and be supported in all opportunities that they want to take.”


Emma Rowcliffe aims to break down the walls

St Clare’s College Sports Captain Emma Rowcliffe considers herself your typical 17-year-old, has a passion for basketball and is optimistic about what the future holds for women.

“In basketball, women have gone from not being televised at all, to now being broadcast in prime time, Fox Sports – that’s an amazing achievement for women in sport,” she said.

Emma plans to follow her mother’s footsteps into the medical field as an occupational therapist, sports scientist or as a physiotherapist for a sports team.

“I see myself getting the opportunities I get because of hard work, rather than what my gender is and how I’m perceived,” she said.

Emma would like to break down the walls of gender stereotyping and says that being a woman should not be seen as a disadvantage.

“I believe that opportunities between genders are evening out and women do have the opportunity to go after what they hope to achieve,” she said.

“I only see an upward trend for women in the future.”


Analise Greenhalgh positive about the future

St Clare’s College student Analise Greenhalgh is no stranger to finding positives out of negative situations. When her Auntie passed away she welcomed her two cousins into her family as brothers, and when her house burnt down two years ago she was thankful that no one else was affected.

“If you feel like a lot of bad things are happening in a row, you just need one good thing to remind yourself that yes, I can keep going,” she said.

The Year 10 student dreams of becoming Editor of her own magazine due to her love of the English language and her inquisitive nature of wanting to know more about the people around her.

Although Analise grew up in a supportive environment, she is saddened knowing that there are women in other Countries that don’t have the same support. This is something that Analise says we can change by helping to empower women around the world.

“My teachers and peers have always told me ‘yes, you can – there’s nothing stopping you,’ so when I get into the real world and someone says ‘you can’t do that’, I won’t take it,” she said.


Cecilija Matic represents Australian women on and off the field

Sixteen-year-old St John Paul II student Cecilija Matic has a huge passion for sport, has represented Australia in Vietnam and Thailand playing for the Junior Matildas and hopes to pursue her passion as a professional footballer or sports journalist.

“I have a really good support network around me, in my football, my academy club, adults, teachers, and parents who are really important in allowing me to pursue what I like,” she said.

Cecilija has seen a positive response from society in regards to increased media exposure and recognition in women’s football.

“I think we can do better to provide women with more opportunities to reach their full potential in whatever aspect of life,” she said.

“I’m fully capable of reaching my dream one day and many girls should feel the same.”


Charlotte Foster to progress women further in Parliament

St John Paul II College student Charlotte Foster is the ACT’s UN Youth Ambassador on the Pacific Project and aspires to work on the UN Development Program and to be a member of parliament and/or Prime Minister.

Charlotte is passionate about women’s rugby, politics and international relations and believes women only have one direction – forward.

“I think it’s sad that only two countries have more than 50% female representation in the parliament, Somalia being one of them, which is often not considered a forward thinking country,” she said.

Charlotte would love to see a greater female representation in parliament and help women in other countries to access the same privileges that she has – to earn a living, and an education.

“My message for International Women’s Day is for women in parliament to build each other up, support each other and demonstrate how they would like young women to act,” she said.

“As a woman you can do anything – you’re strong and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”


Mateja Kostrica nurtures the women around her

St Francis Xavier College Spirituality and Wellbeing Captain Mateja Kostrica is passionate about helping others and plans to continue this aspiration through a career in law.

Mateja is heavily involved within the school and wider community, assisting younger students with getting in touch with their spirituality, creating friendships and volunteering time to the elderly.

“Helping someone is one of the greater assets in life and something that you learn to acquire throughout many years,” she said.

Mateja would love to travel, witness different cultures first-hand and see how women grow and flourish in other countries.

“Being a woman in 2018 is one of the most amazing things, but we still have a long way to go in terms of equal rights,” she said.

“At the core of being a woman is my faith, which helps you believe in yourself and have a vision and pathway to progress.”

For International Women’s Day Mateja’s wants women to surround themselves with people that support them and ultimately support each other.


Claire Mackenzie pushes for equality

Seventeen-year-old St Francis Xavier College student Claire Mackenzie is passionate about the power of language, wants to use words for good and is an advocate for equality.

“I know that I need to fight to get where I want to be in life and I’m willing to do that,” she said.

Claire describes being a woman as a challenge – but a good one, appreciates how far we have come as a society and embraces the unknown when it comes to her future.

“There’s always things that can change and get better and grow and develop in society and I’m excited to see that happen as I grow older and I begin to take part in that movement,” she said.

“I’m really proud to be a part of the Catholic community, which has always been a big part of my identity.”

For International Women’s Day Claire’s message for women is to keep fighting the good fight, keep pushing for equality and take us where women deserve to be.


Sarah Purcell – Mary Mackillop College, Tuggeranong

College Captain Sarah Purcell plays water polo, teaches children to swim in her spare time and would like to be part of the Engineers Without Borders Program that benefits Third World countries.

After graduating from Mary Mackillop, Sarah hopes to go to America and study as a student athlete, playing water polo while obtaining a degree in mechanical engineering.

Sarah is proud knowing that her peers selected her to represent them as College Captain and to be given the opportunity to affect change within the school.

As a future engineer, Sarah hopes that adults will one day stop perpetuating a gender gap and believes that women have the same opportunities as men, we just have to be willing to take it.

Sarah says that like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, on International Women’s Day it’s simple – treat women nicely.


Caitlyn Williams and Ellen Scott – Mary Mackillop College, Tuggeranong

Year 10 students Caitlyn Williams and Ellen Scott created empowering program ‘Sister ACT’ to help young women discover their talents and to grow confident to reach their goals.

Sister ACT has been supported by the Audrey Fagan Grant which will enable the girls to roll out their program this year, including three workshops run over three schools, each with a unique topic that builds on the previous, starting with self-awareness.

“These sort of programs around the world and in Australia can really help to close the gap between men and women, and make people understand that everyone’s skills are different but everyone has the potential to do what they want to do, in the roles they want,” said Caitlyn.

“We hope that Sister ACT will be able to come into every Canberra school to help girls develop their skills.”

Ellen said that young women need to be given the opportunity to be more involved in the decision making that affects their future and want to give women more of a voice.

“We need to respect our differences, but also recognise that we all have talents,” she said.

“They can come away from these workshops knowing that they’re good at their skill, know how to use it and have the confidence to say, ‘I’m good at this – I can do it!’.”


Sophie Highmore – Mary Mackillop College, Tuggeranong

Seventeen-year-old singer, dancer and actor Sophie Highmore strongly believes that women could change the world if given the opportunity.

Sophie pictures a future where women are independent and don’t have to live up to society’s expectations – a world where women get the best out of life by doing what they really want to do.

In the next 10 years Sophie envisions herself performing at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney and recognises that like with any dream, you have to pursue it, set your mind to it and put in the hard yards.

Sophie says that women are in good place but there is always room for improvement when it comes to better education, jobs and wages.

“One thing adults can do better for young women is just listen – listen to their ideas, listen to the opportunities they want to have, give back and communicate,” she said.

On International Women’s Day, Sophie’s message to women is to be independent, be yourself, have fun, and spread kindness and the good word.

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