28 September 2022
After our 2022 She Leads Conference, we asked a select group of women the question of how attending the event has enriched their lives. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing their answers and insights with you. Here is what Grace Sinstead-Reid, our 2022 Jacq Burridge She Leads Conference Scholarship Recipient, had to say.
2021 was the year of women’s rage. Brittany Higgins was raped in Australian Parliament House. Over 110,000 women and allies #Marched4Justice around Australia. Kate Jenkins’ ‘Respect@Work’ report became household reading. Grace Tame won Australian of the year and (more recently) refused to smile for the Prime Minister. The fire was blazing; women were angry and empowered to act. But in 2022, there is an omnipresent sense of collective emotional exhaustion. It’s hard to ‘fight the good fight’ when little has come of the powerful, collective rage and action we exemplified in 2021. The system of patriarchy we fight is more powerful, better resourced and by design, destined to win.
Nevertheless, we must persevere and remain dauntless in striving to create the better world that we collectively envision. A place where human rights, reconciliation, climate action, justice and equality are promoted and sustained through women’s leadership and collective action. But how do we persevere? And how do we remain dauntless in the face of so many social, cultural and institutional barriers? Indeed, as Veronica Gorrie explained in her keynote address, ‘dauntlessness is a heavy burden to carry’.
Admittedly, I am only 23 and have more years ahead of me in my leadership journey than I do behind me, but I have already felt the weight of this burden and buckled underneath it. At 18, I was excited to be in law school, filled with hope and optimism, truly believing that I could make the world a kinder, fairer place. However, the last five years have led me to question my place in the world and, more specifically, in the legal profession. There is so much to change, and I am only one person. I had begun to believe that my passion nor my rage was enough to actualise the positive social change I wanted to see in the world.
But then, I was fortunate enough to win the Jacq Burridge scholarship to attend the She Leads Conference 2022. There I learnt that whilst hope is a discipline, so is rage. Over the past five years, as self-doubt crept in, my passion and rage subsided and were replaced with uncertainty and insecurity. I now appreciate how necessary it is to ‘stoke the fire’ and to keep the image of the world I want to build clear in my mind’s eye. Attending She Leads certainly stoked my inner fire. I left filled with rage, passion and vision, which I am excited to put into action. I also now appreciate that I am not ‘just one person’ and that I am far from alone. In this world, there are women, men and non-binary folk who share my collective vision for a fairer future, and I know they will support me in my leadership journey. To quote keynote speaker Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert:
‘being dauntless does not mean being dauntless on your own’
We thrive together, and being dauntless means driving change for all of us.
I look forward to driving that change.