International Women’s Day, Q+A Luke Broadhurst
In 2018, men were still largely silent in the important national discussions regarding International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day (IWD), an important event which serves a call to action for accelerating gender equality.
Luke Broadhurst is one of those who is taking an active role in organising International Women’s Day events. Men have always played critical roles in the women’s movement, but there is still a long way to go and getting more men into the conversation, is something that Luke is helping to achieve.
Luke’s passion is empowering young people to reach their full potential, overcome adversity and follow their dreams.
As an experienced educator, Luke’s role throughout these events is to facilitate and collaborate with 30+ women leaders in organising workshops that teach techniques used to mentor students from schools throughout the ACT.
These workshops help to foster conversations about International Women’s Day, allowing students to express what issues they are facing within their school environment, because they are women.
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Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
A: International Women’s Day, for me is about empowerment and about recognising that as a society we’ve had a period of discrimination, that fighting has always been necessary in the past but there’s always been some barriers. For me it’s about breaking down those barriers. Particularly in my job, how can we give young women the ability to take on those challenges because obviously, without them taking it on, nothing is going to change.
Q: Why do you take part in organising International Women’s Day events?
A: I see my job as being someone to empower and to give people the tools and I think this is a way for me to highlight that. Essentially, the event that I organise is what I try and do in class every single day. I think it’s a way to put a label on it and make people realise that they’re not the only one in the room that believes what they do.
Q: How did you get started in organising these events?
A: A couple of years ago we thought it would be a really good idea to organise an International Women’s Day event, I was talking with a couple of different organisations and they were looking for something and we put it together. We invited the right people and they liked it and then it just got bigger.
Q: Do you receive any criticism for having such a big role in these events?
A: Never to me, never to my face. I am questioned but to be honest it really doesn’t worry me, it’s my job, so I do it.
Q: What is it like to be one of the only men to take part in these sort of events?
A: It’s interesting because for me I get some really funny questions, asking why I am doing it or why am I invited? Often when I tell people, they don’t think I am behind it. It’s never really worried me to be the man in the room, but the fact that so many women don’t see the value of that is actually a detriment to the cause and I think that’s a way that they really need to rethink how they want to move forward.
(Male celebrities endorsing International Women’s Day are using their platform positively to bring the issue of gender equality to the public’s attention. This will hopefully encourage more engagement in open minded, critical discussions.)
Q: What do you hope to achieve with these events?
A: I get a great enjoyment out of watching people realise that they have individual power. I’m a teacher of sociology, so to actually see students and young people realise that the only way they’re going to make a difference is if they decide to make a difference, watching them realise that there are other people who want to do the same thing. That’s for me, what I get out of it. Too often education is prescriptive in that teacher’s tell you what to learn. For me, the event that we organise, is not about being told what to learn or what to do, it’s “this is what you want to do?” and “how do we do it?”
Q: Do you think there will ever be a point where we won’t need days like International Women’s Day?
A: International Women’s Day, as a day, yeah maybe. However, the concept behind the events that I run, never. Forever young people are being told that their views don’t matter and that they should sit down, be quiet and go to school. The realistic nature is that we don’t get change, we don’t adjust our social values until someone challenges it. Everyone needs the skills to challenge those values. In essence, we will need to do something about empowering people, whether it’s International Women’s Day or it’s something else, there will always be a need to progress.
Q: What inspirational women do you have in your life?
A: I have a lot of friends who are amazing women, who stand up for what they believe in everyday. I have taught many, many young women and young men but particularly young women, who have come from a background of hardship. Despite that hardship they have broken free and are now doing things that they were probably told they never could do. I think that’s an inspirational thing. Some of these kids come from absolute hardship and to see what they’re doing 5 or 10 years down the track, that’s amazing from a teaching perspective. Any woman who stands up for what they believe and is independent, that is ultimately, to me, what I think International Women’s Day is about. Having the right to fight for what they believe.
Q: How will we know when equity and equality has been reached between the genders?
A: There’s a difference, I experience things differently. I think it’s a call for women, to go “yeah we are happy.” I suppose the other side of International Women’s Day is we concentrate on a focus of ‘today,’ in a Western social model. Progressively, if we look over history, we have come a long way, but many parts of the world haven’t. I’m designing an event that fights for our environment, I don’t know how you do something about a removed environment. From our distance, I don’t know how to affect social change, I don’t think you can.