A few weeks ago an AFL footballer gave a press conference. The captain of his club, he had just completed a 12 month ban and the football world was anxious to hear if he had decided to retire, or to play on next year.
He informed the media that he had indeed decided to stay on. But what I found the most interesting thing about the press conference was what this young man decided to wear. Written in green on the underside of the peak of his cap was the word ‘FEMINIST’.
I don’t know if this act sparked any conversations around the country; I’m pretty sure most conversations inspired by this press conference were about the fact he was coming back to play. But I was struck by it and it got me thinking about what a year of reflection away from the football world may have sparked in this man.
Perhaps he was shocked when earlier this year football power-brokers joked about drowning a female football media personality. Perhaps he started to noticed the casual and subtle (and sometimes blatant) ways women are often degraded by media personalities. Perhaps he was inspired by the launch of the AFL Women’s competition and the standard of football and sportspersonship AFLW players display.
My guest for this week is Carmen Hawker (@CarmenHawker). Carmen is a life-long football fan whose mission is to help make gender equality a reality, and to help everyday people understand its importance and the role they can also play in brining it into being.
Inspired by the way in which football, and sport in general, can be used as a vehicle for social change, Carmen is also involved in helping improving the lives of women both locally and around the world. Here in Melbourne Birth for HumanKIND helps women in disadvantage circumstances with resources and support during pregnancy and childbirth. In Cambodia and Nepal, The Global Women’s Project works to empower women to bring about change in their own lives and the communities they live within.
The work Carmen is doing is so necessary. I am inspired by the way she is able to uncompromisingly bring her values and her whole self to the world of football, a place where women often feel unsafe and belittled. It is an exciting time for sport in this city, where steps towards gender equality are being taken that I hope will also translate outside the football arena. While it may be hard to imagine what a truly gender liberated, multi-cultural society would look like, I am excited to think about the richness and depth it will bring to my life, and in making this livable city even more so for more people.