19 February 2018
The She Leads College Conference, taking place on Thursday 22 March, is a one-day event for girls in years 11 and 12, equipping participants with the practical skills and knowledge they need to become confident leaders. This year, we have an amazing line-up of inspiring young women who will discuss their pathways as trailblazers. Today, we chat to Codie Bell, the event MC.
Codie Bell is a local Canberra activist and comedian. She was one of the lead organisers of last year’s Women’s March Canberra, a sister march of the record-breaking Women’s March on Washington and is a loud voice on the campus of the Australian National University advocating for womens’ and victims’ rights. She performed in last year’s Canberra Comedy Festival as part of the all-woman showcase show ‘Girls Can’t Take a Joke’, and took it on the road to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival as ‘ACT Like a Lady’. While her day job focuses on disability policy, in her spare time she works with the group Restorative ANU, an innovative approach to resolving the hurt when a university refuses to take sexual assault and harassment seriously.
Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less.
In love with the world and everything it, passionate about injustice, and always, always learning. There are two pivotal moments in my leadership journey – publishing an article on my experience in an abusive relationship, and organising the Women’s March Canberra. The first taught me the importance of telling the truth. The second taught me that the only thing you need to do to organise something is to organise it.
What was (or is) your biggest leadership challenge?
My biggest leadership challenge is resisting the urge to put myself at the front, to be always mindful of whether I am the most relevant voice in any situation, and when opportunities come my way, know who I would do well to pass them on to. This isn’t everyone’s challenge – some women I know would do well to talk themselves up louder and more often – but I have already dabbled in an amateur stand-up comedy career. I don’t need to make my activism The Codie Bell Show as well!
Why do we need more women leaders, and what difference can women in leadership make in terms of gender equality?
I don’t believe women should uphold existing status quo’s, because we don’t need more women on the boards of arms manufacturers, or more women leaders at the sites of human rights abuses, or more women making the decisions at companies that loot our environment for short-term economic gain. Women are powerful. And it’s important that our women leaders are clear-eyed on the problems facing our society, their causes, and what the next most elegant & strategic move is, to get us to the world we want to live in.
What book should every aspiring woman leader read?
This is the hardest question of the bunch! I hope I don’t get disinvited for recommending a book for every situation.
Share with us the best piece of advice you’ve been given.
“Learn the difference between self-care and self-comfort.” It’s hard to rank advice, but this is something I have recently been meditating on. It’s from Sarah Bessy, a Canadian writer whose work exists at the intersection of a lot of my interests (Christianity, feminism, stories about her very cute children) – she says the way to tell if something is self-care is if it “fills your well”. For me, this means making time to go to my therapist, reading books, spending time with my grandparents, exercising. Unfortunately, it does not mean watching YouTube videos for four hours or doing a sheet mask to avoid my laundry.