“She deserves a medal”. How many times have you heard this about an amazing woman who’s working tirelessly in her community or profession? Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself about a woman you know, and her dedicated service. But have you ever done anything about actually getting a medal for her; before it’s too late?
Every year, thousands of outstanding Australian women are missing out on national recognition and gratitude for their incredible work. Although many don’t expect a reward, it’s just another way the work women do remains invisible. It’s not fair – but you can change this. Nominate a woman for a national award here and tap into the support provided through Honour a Woman Facebook page.
National awards; women are missing out
Nationally we have the Australian Honours and Awards system, affectionally known as ‘The Gongs’. These awards recognise people who have made a significant difference to our nation, with recipients honoured twice a year from all parts of Australia and all walks of life. They get a medal and can then put letters after their names, of AC, AO, AM, and OAM.
The problem is, although the honours are going to good people, deserving people, it’s mainly older, white men who are getting the medals. In fact, 70% of the swag, and it’s getting worse. According to Our Community’s Advancing Women report, after 42 years of awards, women are receiving even fewer in recent years. Aboriginals and people from culturally linguistic diverse backgrounds also don’t receive their fair share of recognition. In the name of fairness, this situation has got to change.
Pin a medal on her chest
Scanning the newspapers honours list on Australia Day and the Queen’s birthday to see who has ‘got a gong’, is a dispiriting task. Male after male after male, especially at the higher levels of awards. Sure, they’ve earned it, but women of merit are missing out. It doesn’t have to be this way.
We all know amazing women from a range of backgrounds who are contributing outstanding service to our country; service that is above and beyond their paid job. Women like the incredible Connie Johnson who, with her brother Samuel Johnson, of Love Your Sister charity was recently awarded an Order of Australia Medal by the Governor General for her amazing contribution to raising funds for breast cancer research.
You probably know a woman who is doing outstanding work in her community, profession or public life. It may even be your mother, or a sister, auntie, niece or female colleague or neighbour. You may also know of exceptional service by people from Aboriginal and multicultural communities. But they probably haven’t yet been recognised. Why? Maybe it’s just because you haven’t thought to nominate them……
Fill in that form
Our national awards are democratic. Any individual or group can nominate an Australian citizen for a medal. All it takes is for you to fill out the nomination form, on the Governor Generals website. It’s sort of like completing an assignment or a grant application – the only requirement is that you keep it confidential from her. You need to fill in her bio, find the details of a few referees and then fill out a couple of pages detailing of her outstanding achievements. That’s it. Then submit!
Do it before it’s too late
One day you may have to write an obituary for an outstanding woman in your life. Although sad, it’s likely to be the last chance to publicly recognise her exceptional service. Too many women who have had outstanding lives, careers and achievements miss out on the public recognition of a national award. It’s not fair and it’s keeping the achievements of these incredible role models invisible to the rest of the world.
For many of us, it will be much easier to fill in a nomination form for a medal, than to write an obituary (having done both myself, a few times). Before it gets too late, will you nominate an incredible woman in your life and ‘get the gal a gong’ so she can put a medal on her chest?
Fill in the form here: Governor General’s website Join the Facebook group here: Honour A Woman and help us achieve 50:50 gender balance in the Honours by the year 2020.
Ruth McGowan OAM received an Order of Australia in 2014 for community service. She believes in passing it on, and in 2017, she co-founded Honour A Woman movement with Dr Elizabeth Hartnell-Young and Carol Kiernan to support Australians to nominate a woman for an Australian Honour