100 Women

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”
African Proverb

The world is becoming increasingly globalised. One of the downsides of globalisation is feeling bombarded by information from across the world. At times I feel overwhelmed by the multiple issues appearing in the media and having to understand which information I should pay attention to. The contradiction of living in a city of opportunity, such as Perth, while knowing people elsewhere do not have the same opportunities is troubling to me. Deciding where and how to engage can become a fraught terrain, yet I still have the desire to make the argument to resist apathy. I believe we underestimate the power of the individual; especially the individual combined with likeminded others. The people who understand this are the leaders I desire for this and future generations.

Danielle Tansino is one of these people, an everyday goddess I met through the Red my Lips campaign. The campaign is designed to encourage conversation surrounding sexual consent and associated topics motivated by the emotion of anger. Danielle was raped on a night out, she filed a police report and following a traumatic experience with the court system was told by a female district attorney “Jurors don’t like girls that drink” and not to prosecute. Channelling this experience into the group has connected and mobilised numerous women, and men, who have had similar experiences. Danielle has admitted to me, she had no idea how the organisation would be received and has been overwhelmed by the growth in the few short years the campaign has been running. Closer to home, another individual who inspires me is Anthony K J Smith, a politics and theatre major here at Murdoch University, who having been inspired by Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, developed a theatre piece entitled Sex and Sensuality in 2013 and is currently working on a show on Gender for 2014. The series of monologues in this show aim to encourage discussions about different realities we may experience. All proceeds were donated to Family Planning Western Australia.

The thread linking these two stories is the creation of a community, albeit virtual or temporary, aimed at contributing. Both collectives donate to other charities that share their values. This idea of contributing is a concept I have been pondering recently, after becoming involved in a philanthropic organisation, 100 Women. 100 Women is a giving circle with the mission to ‘ignite women’s philanthropy through the power of collective giving to advance the empowerment of all women’, by collecting large sum donations from individuals or mini giving circles, and grants up to $40,000 to women-centred initiatives or established programs.

The word philanthropy consists of two elements philo: ‘loving’ and anthro: ‘(wo)mankind’ and is linked to benevolence, two concepts that infuse my life. Personally, my involvement in this organisation has expanded my ability to connect with issues I am passionate about and to connect with other likeminded women who respect individuality and the means to achieve that.

As women we may pause when it comes to speaking up, or refrain from highlighting our talents and become involved because we have been inadvertently socialised to be silent, and while the debate surrounding this claim is more complex than this article, there are many opportunities to use our voices. The examples I mention here are only a snippet of the many amazing people and organisations that grace my life. Living in a city of privilege means lending our voices to local and global issues affecting women, mental health issues, and climate change, it comes with the terrain. I encourage you to use your time in this life to explore the power you have as an individual, and find the collectives that resonate with you. Don’t ignore the hard stuff, no matter how overwhelming it may get. It may be worth much more than you imagine!

Words by Gabrielle Walker

For more information on Red My Lips see redmylips.org and for more information, to contribute to the Gender Monologue project, please email anthonykhsmith@gmail.com

For information on 100 Women please visit www.100women.com.au and join us for connect networking events each month where you can meet other like-minded individuals.

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