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A new hope for feminist future through extreme journeys

Anna Rose, Ailsa Piper and Jessica Watson

Anna Rose, Ailsa Piper and Jessica Watson talk about their journeys and achievements. Photo: Kristie Yates

What do a climate change activist, a writer and world solo sailor have in common?

They are strong, intelligent and ambitious Australian women.

At 4.00pm on Friday, the ABC3 Marquee began to fill with an audience, predominantly female, but not entirely. Young teens and students, mothers and elderly groups eagerly awaited the arrival of the speakers.

Jessica Watson was the first to arrive. One particular fan had traveled across the country to Byron Bay and to listen first hand to Jessica share her story. She have the young man a hug and signed his copy of her book, True Spirit. He did not stop smiling the entire session.

In 2010, at the age of 16, Jessica Watson had successfully completed her dream to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo. This voyage meant 210 days at sea, more than 22, 000 nautical miles with only her boat, Ella’s Pink Lady, for company. Since becoming the Young Australian of the Year in 2011, Watson has written a book and now spends time speaking publicly and honestly about her journey and how she got where she is today.

Watson was then joined on stage by fellow speakers Anna Rose and Ailsa Piper along with chairperson Jill Eddington.

Anna Rose seemed to have a following within the crowd who were already familiar with her work on climate change. Striving to improve the condition of the world for the future, Anna is about as passionate about the environment as it gets and is the co-founder of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Her latest journey was spent researching and writing the book, Madlands: A journey to change the mind of a climate sceptic.

Rose’s concluding comment gained instant support amongst the audience as they applauded.

“If we have climate change activists going to jail trying to help the world, the least I can do is spend four weeks with Nick Minchin.”

Continuing with the list of powerful women, Ailsa Piper has made an impressive name for herself within the Australian arts and film industries. She has dabbled in everything from acting, theatre directing, writing, teaching and public speaking, winning various awards along the way. Like Watson and Rose, Piper has also fused her passion into a book. Sinning across Spain is about her journey travelling, learning languages, facing fears and enjoying the entire process.

Piper speaks highly of her fellow panellists in relation to youth and experience as the stepping-stones to the future. She gestures between Rose and Watson: “If this is the future, Sign me up!”

Jill Eddington did a great job at keeping the session lighthearted, fun, intellectual and structured.

The first thing you noticed as these women took the stage wass how well the mixture of their confident personalities, elegance and even sense of humour meshed together, making them a compatible and thoroughly entertaining ensemble to engage with.

Entitled Extreme Journeys, the session was designed to explore the journeys of modern day, via powerful women who are keeping up or even overtaking industries that have previously been dominated by men. The three panellists revealed everything from their fears and vulnerabilities to their influences, strengths and fulfilling their dreams.

The emphasis on extraordinary journeys experienced by ordinary people delivers a strong sense of empowerment, which was invaluable for all audience members, particularly young women.

No matter the journey, it is women like Anna Rose, Ailsa Piper and Jessica Watson who pave the way to a better future. Through sharing their experiences with Australians, they are able to inform, empower and inspire us to take our own journeys.

Kristie Yates is a Southern Cross University media student.

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