An open letter to our women who broke the rules and made today possible

There is many a letter written to celebrate the greatness of man, but rarely do we stop like we have this week and acclaim the greatness of woman in man’s world.

So today I want to write to all the women who have fought through the challenges and won; and to those we can count on the journey as significant. You are the reason we can celebrate Michelle Payne this week. And all of you have made a difference.

To the women who have tried to break the glass ceiling and failed, we thank you. Your chipping away at it made it weaker and weaker so people like Michelle Payne could break through it. You said women could, they said we couldn’t. We tried harder and eventually, we won. Sad it has to be a competition isn’t it. But even Michelle’s journey was spattered with the indications of how hard won it is.

To the babes of the 70s who wore their skirts too short, their heels to high, flowers in their hair, smoked pot, broke the rules and were judged … It is because of you that the world changed. Women wanted to be different to staid, homely and familiar. You rebelled. You created today.

To the women who refused to approach the glass ceiling (the stay at home mums and supporters), we thank you. You nurtured the female leaders of today, forgoing personal gain. You showed them that it is good to be there for your family, to care for the ones you love and to support them in achieving their goals. You showed them that we can be compassionate, organised and valuable in every corner of society and you don’t have to have a job title or work for a corporation to be important in someone’s world.  And many many times, you went without and did it tougher than most people realised. You put others first.

Ad. Article continues below.

To the working mothers, the single mothers and the widows, you made it happen with less time, less money and less hope than others. You made us all see that life is for living darn it, even when the chips are against you. (Thanks Mum)

To the women who started businesses, we thank you. You were the minority in a world that didn’t and still doesn’t make it easy for women to succeed. With the statistics against you, you fought to win, and well done if you did!

To the women who wore bikinis when one-pieces were all that went before, you showed ‘em your midriff, but more than that, you showed them your spunk. And with it you showed them that you weren’t afraid of breaking with expectations. You started a fire.

To the women who got a degree when no one thought you could, who became scientists and politicians, lawyers and doctors, and worked the hours of a man and more, for less. We thank you. Because of you the women are gradually seeping into significant decision-making roles, and making a difference to the way society balances things.

To the women who went to war or stood up during the war to help our nations, even though they wouldn’t let you on the frontline at first, we thank you. You cared in our hospitals, created in our factories and bred for our future. You raised expectations of how life should be lived and you wouldn’t let them take away your rights at the end.

Ad. Article continues below.

To the women who play sports like swimming and tennis and golf and cricket and football and netball… who earned less and worked just as hard, we thank you.   You made us see that the pinnacles of achievement are worth chasing, and the glory not just about the money.

To the women who fought for a vote, and those who fought their way to represent us in politics and government, we thank you. Your jobs are often thankless, and of much media criticism. Society often admonishes the way you look rather than the difference you make. We thank you for continuing to fight despite the disrespect many wielded at you. Your role model on all sides is important to our future.

To women who didn’t take no for an answer, we thank you. It is because of you that people like Michelle Payne believe they can achieve, against the odds. When people said “no”, you said “why?”, and ploughed a new route to success. Your fight has shown a new generation that “no” just means “try harder”.

And finally, to the men that stand beside us, not above us or in front of us, we applaud you. When you help a woman achieve, you create opportunity for more people than I think you realise. Because a world where opportunity is equal for all gives women a chance to be a far more powerful and visible role models for the future than those who adhere to stereotypes, block the path or “must go first”.  With your support and collective fight for change, all our daughters can be whatever they want to be alongside our sons, and as a mother of girls I THANK YOU.

As a woman who has grown up through the battle, I am grateful for you, the women who have gone before. I want it to be possible for women to achieve anywhere, anytime they want to work hard for it, and because of what brave women have done in the last 100 years, it is.