I thought it was extremely cute a few weeks back when a friend of mine shared with me that her daughter had chosen me to be her ‘role model’ subject for a school project her teacher had assigned the girls in her class. “I’ll try not to take it too much to heart that she didn’t choose me darl, her mother to be the recipient of this honour” she joked.
Her daughter, aged six, I was aware, had chosen me possibly more based on the fact that her mum loves to tell her about the celebrities I’ve interviewed over my career, and as many little girls of her age, is desperately hoping to be a famous singer one day.
So given this honest acceptance of my role model crowning, I wanted to be very thoughtful when it came to answering the questions her teacher instructed the kids to get from their assigned woman, so it became something a little more in line with what the learning part of the project was about. Not just about why chatting to Katy Perry for 2 minutes on the phone makes me so great.
I’ve also been thinking about the role of women, great women as part of a speech I’m honoured to be making in Victor Harbour this Friday, for The Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island Women’s Community Awards. The awards are based on local women who have, or are making an outstanding contribution to their community. As well as those who have inspired others along the way.
International Women’s Day itself is recognised and celebrated to such a degree in almost 30 countries around the world, that it’s actually a public holiday. And in what I think is a rather nice touch, in China, Madagascar and Nepal, it is only the women that enjoy the day off.
There are of course many historical reasons why so many countries regard this annual celebration as a necessary part of their cultural awareness, since the early 1900’s, with the day being born out of the socialist political parties in a number of Eastern European areas where the women have lead some brave and extraordinary events.
Whilst in many other countries it is viewed as a day to show respect and admiration for women. In1977 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace. What this then brought to the fore was a way to highlight critical issues that must be addressed from an international community viewpoint.
This year the UN theme is A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women. The horrendous news reports that have made headlines here recently, regarding the rape of innocent women and children in India and Pakistan may be unbelievably shocking to us, but just show that our thoughts and actions towards helping women should not just stop at our borders.
I do also believe it’s equally as important for us to celebrate and contemplate what we believe to be women to look up to in our own country, and instil in our children what qualities they should respect in order to evolve into great ones themselves.
It wasn’t an easy question to answer when posed with ‘What are the qualities of a good role model?’ by an impressionable six year old. I sat and stared at my computer for what seemed like forever.
Shrugging off thoughts of unworthiness, I wrote back; I think a role model has to be someone with strength of character, someone who lives honestly. They do not have to be perfect but they must be committed to improving themselves and being kind to others along the way.
A role mode does not have to be a world leader or a person of note. In fact there are role models in households all over Australia. This coming Friday I think we should all pay our respects to the women who we admire around us, and point out to them exactly why we think they’re amazing. Who will be your woman on Friday?