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12 Inspiring Quotes About Feminism That'll Pump You Up

Outgoing Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick says the rules are holding us back, and it's up to us to rewrite them.

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Elizabeth Broderick has given a powerful and inspirational speech at the National Press Club, in her last public appearance in her role as Australia's Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

In her eights years in the job, she's seen the number of women on corporate boards double, the introduction of a paid parental leave scheme and domestic violence become a priority for the government.

But Broderick says we still have a long way to go until we right the wrongs of the past, as women and men stand together in the fight for equality.

1. On denying reality:

Here are some cold, hard facts about sex discrimination quoted in her speech:

- One in four women have been sexually harassed in the workplace in the last five years.

- Fewer big Australian companies are run by women than by men named Peter.

- The majority of unpaid caring work is undertaken by women

- The gender pay gap, for full-time working Australian woman over a typical 45 year career equates to about $700,000.

Broderick said these statistics cannot be dismissed as "the ravings of the feminist left."

2. On changing the world:

Releon8211 / Getty Images

Broderick was told by a woman in the United Nations that "she did what she could, when she could and that's how she changed the world."

"That simple concept gives me confidence and energy," she said.

3. On the battle for equality:

Broderick said that men also suffer from the inequality that exists for women.

"Gender equality is not a battle of the sexes; it is a battle for equality – a battle that men and women must wage side by side," she said.


4. On intersectional discrimination:

Broderick said we need to be aware that not all women have the same chances in life, and there is no 'one size fits all' solution.

Women from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds and women with a disability can face additional barriers in society and that needs to be addressed.

5. On telling stories to create change:

"You can’t be overwhelmed by the sadness and powerlessness you might feel on hearing the stories. When you are moved by what you hear or witness, you must use it to affect change," she said.

When Broderick was trying to get a group of men to understand how domestic violence affects women in the workplace, she told the story of survivor Kristy McKellar:

"For Kristy, a senior manager it meant hiding the bruises; finding that her husband had sawn the heels off her shoes because he didn’t like that she was taller than him – the difficulty of trying to find her car keys that her husband had hidden."

6. On listening to women:

We need to give voice to women who have been silenced, Broderick said.

"As [domestic violence campaigner] Rosie Batty said, 'Prior to Luke’s death no-one wanted to hear my story of living with violence. Now everyone does.' It saddens me that, when women living with violence speak, the system doesn’t listen."

7. On violence against women:

Broderick described the statistic that two women a week are murdered by men they know as "beyond belief".

59 women have been allegedly murdered in Australia this year.

But she said she's hopeful for the next generation, with positive results coming out of respectful relationships education in schools.


8. On challenging the status quo:

All quote graphics by Thinkstock / Anna Mendoza / BuzzFeed

Broderick said we need to start telling the personal stories of women whose voices are missing from public debate.

"These stories teach us the importance of learning through listening; of standing in each other’s shoes; of understanding that decisions that are made (or not) by those in power have an impact on individual lives; of the need to rewrite the rules when they perpetuate injustice; they remind us of the importance of reimagining normal," she said.

9. On having a family or a career:

She told the story of a woman who worked in construction who was told by her manager "your choice, the job or the baby?"

Broderick said this is a choice that women should never be forced to make.

10. On embracing targets:

"It does not matter so much what the target is, it’s the act of agreeing on a target and making it public that is important. Targets and merit are not mutually exclusive. In fact, targets are necessary to allow women’s merit to be revealed."

11. On taking on board the experiences of others:

Releon8211 / Getty Images

Broderick said people fighting for change shouldn't be limited by their own personal experience, and to take the time to understand where other people have come from.

12. On working for a better future:

"A life without advocating for change, is not a life that will have meaning for me," Broderick said at the conclusion of her speech.

"So I will continue to use my voice to create an Australia that welcomes women, that cherishes their voice and eagerly awaits their wisdom. I will use my influence to create a world where a woman’s value does not decrease because of another’s inability to see her worth.

A world where vulnerability transitions into power, where difference is celebrated, where leadership is shared and where each half of humanity respects and embraces the other."

Alexandra Lee is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Alex Lee at

Anna Mendoza is a photo editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Anna Mendoza at

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