Five quick questions with Matilda Webb

6 October 2021

Our She Leads High Conference is just around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited! Taking place on Friday 12 November, at the Kambri Cultural Centre, this year’s theme ‘Wild’, is all about harnessing personal adversity and using it to thrive as leaders in your personal and schooling life.

In anticipation for the event, we caught up with one our She Leads High Conference panellists, Matilda Webb, to talk all things leadership, inspirations and Matilda’s greatest achievements to date.

Matilda is a passionate advocate for gender equality, disability rights and climate justice. Matilda is currently studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the Australian National University. In 2019, Matilda was an organiser for the School Strike 4 Climate Movement and a board member for SEE-Change. In 2020 Matilda won the Young Canberra Citizen Award for Environment & Sustainability, for advocacy in the environment space and volunteer work as an organiser for School Strike 4 Climate (SS4C). Currently, Matilda is a member of the Equality Rights Alliance Young Women’s Advisory Group and ACT Youth Advisory Council.

Describe yourself in 30 words or less.

I love all things bright and colourful. I am a passionate advocate for disability rights and intersectional feminism. I am passionate about uplifting others and ensuring young people have a voice.

Tell us about a moment in your life that kick-started your leadership journey.

In 2019 I attended the Canberra March Climate Strike. Seeing so many passionate young people leading change made me realise that even as a young person I have power and the ability to make change. After the strike, I attended a meeting with ACT School Strike and immediately found myself thrust into organising climate strikes, meeting with politicians and speaking to passionate young people around Australia.

What questions are you tired of hearing about gender equality or women in leadership?

“Don’t we want people to be judged on merit?”

This question is often in criticism of quotas and works under the assumption that experience beyond typical academic or work experience does not hold ‘merit’ or value. This view on ‘merit’ is racist, classist, and ableist. We must not only expand our definition of ‘merit’, but change the structures that prevent women from getting and staying in leadership positions and male dominated industries.

What is a personal challenge you have had to overcome for your leadership goals?

I have struggled with severe depression, anxiety and anorexia. I realised in year 12 that the pressure and perfectionism I was putting myself through was hurting me. Thankfully, due to a strong support system and help from the medical profession I have been able to improve and achieve many things I am proud of. My health is something I will always have to consider and look after to achieve my goals. My experience of mental illness and the importance of accessibility is something I take into everything I am involved in.

Imagine yourself in your 40’s. What leadership advice would your 40-year-old self give to you right now?

Set boundaries, take your time, and put yourself first.

Want to hear more from Matilda? If you’re a young woman or nonbinary person in years 9 or 10, ask your school to register you for the She Leads High Conference on Friday 12 November – visit the event page for more information.

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