As I accepted my award from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at a lunch at Parliament House, I felt deeply honoured — and more important, encouraged by the fact that the work we do with young women has received public recognition. I see my award as proof that it is now widely accepted that we need to equip our girls to make sense of an increasingly complex world and to shape it themselves, so they can move beyond Bratz, Britney and Bacardi Breezers.
The award has also got me thinking about the leaders that I most admire. I am very impressed with Kate Ellis, the federal government’s Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare and Youth, for speaking up about the importance of tackling body image issues among teenagers. Hallelujah, sister! And a significant role model of mine is Elizabeth Broderick, the Sex Discrimination and Age Discrimination Commissioner of Australia’s Human Rights Commission. Immediately after her appointment in 2007, she embarked on a nationwide tour to listen to what people all around Australia had to say about discrimination, and that act really resonated with me. I apply this lesson to my own work: in designing programs for teenage girls, I have learnt that it is vital to listen to them and connect to what they are doing and experiencing in their own lives, rather than assume I know what issues concern them.
Who are the leaders you most admire? What qualities do they possess?
I’d love to hear your reflections on the nature of leadership, too. What makes someone a great leader?
Finally, given the public recognition I have just received, this seems an apt time to acknowledge my Enlighten Amazons – the woman I am privileged to lead. My love and gratitude go to: Francesca Kaoutal (my business partner and Enlighten’s co-founder), Sonia Lyne, Alana Benjamin, Melissa Coutts, Storm Greenhill-Brown, Louise Beddoes, Catherine Stark, Diane Illingworth-Wilcox, Jane Higgins, Kelly Valder, Nikki Dingle, Nikki Davis, Monica Lamata, Kellie Mackereth, Christine Elias and Fiona Ciappara.
A special edition of The Weekend Australian Magazine this weekend (June 20-21) will feature all ten of the winners. At the award ceremony I got a sneak preview, and I can honestly say it is a truly inspiring read; it features interviews with the judging panel and the winners, on the nature of leadership.
Audio from an interview I did on radio 2UE discussing the win can be listened to here: danielle-miller