"We should stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are."
Could actress and activist Emma Watson (aka Harry Potter's Hermione Granger to many) have said it any better?
Recently, I've started to open my eyes in regards to some things that for so long, have just been part of what I've always known and accepted to be reality.
To be honest, I've stumbled upon this path all because I happened to see a Facebook post from Anoushka Gungadin, CEO for the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award in Victoria.
The post appeared on The Nurtured Woman Book Series Facebook page, a group I was made a part of after being involved as a contributing writer for an upcoming book.
Anoushka's post was about a 'Young Women's' series aimed towards empowering the next generation of young women to succeed.
It sparked my interest. Why? I honestly have no idea but I ended up volunteering my services as a writer and it wasn't too long before I'd whipped up a couple of pieces.
That all said, it wasn't until attending the first event in the series and listening to a panel of successful and inspiring women that I too was asking this question: In 2015, why are we still engaging in a conversation based on obtaining equality for all?
Women struggling with personal confidence and lack of self-worth, not feeling as though they have any other female role models to look up to, discouraged because they're surrounded by unrealistic portrayals of women, grappling to have as equal a voice as males do... they're the same age-old issues.
Yet here we are, in 2015, discussing these issues all over again.
Here are just a couple of staggering stats for you. According to The Duke of Ed:
• An estimated 2/3 of illiterate adults worldwide are women.
• Women represent 45.9 percent of the workforce yet only 3.5 percent of CEOs in the ASX 200 are women.
It sure does get you thinking, doesn't it? This isn't just an issue for women either. As Watson has pointed it, gender stereotyping is as much an issue for men as it is for women.
Why is it that we're not accustomed to men crying? At the end of the day, they're as human as women are. They have the same feelings and emotions.
Even though I may only be realizing this now, I'm one of the lucky ones.
My parents always told me I could achieve anything I set my mind to and have supported every dream I've had. Not to mention, I was blessed very early on in my career to be surrounded by numerous strong-willed but very supportive women.
In more recent times, I've been spurred on by the likes of Naomi Simson (Founder of RedBalloon), Carolyn Creswell (Founder of Carman's Kitchen) and the great Arianna Huffington (yes, I remember reading her email response at 2am and thinking I was dreaming) responding to my efforts to reach out to them.
It makes all the difference.
There's no doubt my involvement with The Duke of Ed has opened my world up to inspirational females who I never would have otherwise met.
Words such as these from the panelists will continue ringing through my mind for quite some time:
"Challenge yourself, even if doing so takes you outside your comfort zone because sometimes, that's the best way."
Since attending that first women's forum a couple of weeks ago, so much has changed for me. I really believe you're reading this now because my eyes have been opened.
To end with a quote (just as we began):
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."-
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr
Feel free to contact Sarah directly via email.