Just because Australian women enjoy a quality of life better than those in less fortunate countries does not mean they should stop pushing for equality, Bendigo’s young citizen of the year has said.
Since receiving the local honour in January this year, Khayshie Tilak-Ramesh has gone on to be chosen for the inaugural Joan Kirner young and emerging leaders program, which sees 21 women receive leadership training and networking opportunities.
One of the 20-year-old’s major takeaways so far was the need to keep striving for equality on home turf, even if inequalities experienced by Australian women paled in comparison to those in the developing world.
“We tend to consider our issues insignificant to more obvious and pressing ones,” she said.
Ms Tilak-Ramesh identified the gender pay gap as an example of a divide that needed bridging and said it was everyone’s job to contribute.
“I've had some amazing male mentors, so it's not an issue of gender,” she said.
“It's an issue of both genders coming together to achieve equality.”
Being surrounded by other high-achieving women not only meant she was offered support for her own ventures, but also fostered positive thinking, she said.
“The women are supportive and always pull each other up if we subconsciously belittle our achievements,” Ms Tilak-Ramesh said about the collegiality between the women.
But it was her age was that was was a hurdle to achieving her aspirations, not her gender, she said.
Upon receiving an Australia Day award in January, Ms Tilak-Ramesh called for her community to give greater credence to the thoughts and feelings of its youth.
But among the Joan Kirner program participants – who were narrowed from a shortlist of 250 nominees – her age was not important, even though she was the youngest member.
“[It is] humbling to be immersed in a group of women who don't see my age as a barrier to leadership.”