There is a dilemma that most activists must face – how to substantiate their concern, and how to get the point across or be noticed by those who can make the necessary changes within society, all while keeping the sympathy of the masses for the cause. Extreme actions draw attention to a cause but erode public support —many protestors fail to see the link. Shutting down traffic. Vandalising property. Threatening or engaging in violence. Understandably, communication of the cause is often diluted or diminished by the perception that these actions are immoral.
While these forms of extreme protest might undercut public support for a movement, they are remarkably effective at raising awareness about social causes and placing pressure on the institutions that can act on them. Society is required to think about what the activists are protesting against. If they are protesting against a repressive dictatorship, for example, they might not really lose that moral standing because they’re seen as striking back against a very immoral agent.
Equally, droning on about a cause exhausts the sympathies of the masses.
There is a third option, and in my experience, a gentler form of activism that does not dilute the outcome of the cause. Grassroots change management.
International Women’s Day will be marked around the world on 8 March. If you are within the Canberra Girls Grammar community, this fact has been celebrated and communicated proudly, and at times, loudly all this week. Most media outlets or organisations are running a story, a theme or an event.
The roles of schools such as ours is to engender change through the way we prepare our graduates to take their place in the world, and to place aspiring female graduates into a vast range of tertiary and industry ‘pipelines’ to give them the best possible start for the next chapter in their life. A particular goal of our School, is to place aspiring female graduates into areas that were traditionally male dominated. Today, we are launching our Women in Politics and Government program at CGGS, The House.
The program will unashamedly place students from Girls Grammar in the pipeline for a career in politics or government. Seeking power, and pursuing a seat at the table is courageous, but equally is a moral imperative. Who better than the Girls’ School up the hill from Parliament House to lead the program?
Strong leadership and integrity of intent and purpose will have the greatest impact at the grassroots level because this is the route to global change and influence. Schools as organisations need to respond and remain responsive, but continue to take time to understand the need for real change, versus perceived change, and if the evidence dictates, continue to do what they know they do well at that grassroots level.
The House will enable girls of character, competence, confidence and consideration to commit to being women of power who lead change for an equitable and sustainable future.
Mrs Anna Owen
Photo at top: Mrs Anna Owen, Jaimie Noonan (Debating and Public Speaking Captain) and Mr Patrick Marman at the International Women's Day Assembly.