“Be the change you want to be in the world.”
On Sunday, author, journalist and television presenter Tara Moss embraced the Mahatma Ghandi quote as instructive advice for women and girls.
The high profile writer and human rights advocate was in town for Saturday’s Steampunk event at the Goulburn Waterworks. But on Sunday she took time to speak about her latest book, Speaking Out.
Former Federal Senator Dr Ursula Stephens interviewed Ms Moss at a special literary session at the Goulburn Library. Some 50 people attended, including teenagers.
Speaking Out is her 11th book and second non-fiction tome, following The Fictional Woman.
It equips women and girls to speak out “safely and confidently” in a world where women’s voices were “vastly outnumbered” by men’s.
Ms Moss said it was a sad fact that women were under-represented in parliament, the corporate sector, film and many other areas, despite making up 50 per cent of the population.
Partly for this reason, and stereotypes, they were subjected to abuse when speaking out about issues.
The book carries a strong message for them.
“You have a right to speak out,” she told the crowd.
She cited a UNICEF study which found females were 27 per cent more likely to be bullied online.
“It is rife and the numbers get higher as the women get younger,” Ms Moss said.
“It has huge implications for for mental health, for suicide and democracy because people are being bullied out of public life….People see it as too high a price to pay and that’s a tragedy.”
Much of this abuse was also “highly sexualised,” she said.
The book addresses the question: ‘Why speak out?’ Ms Moss said women had a great contribution to make and a vital role in removing stigmas.
Secondly, it deals with how to speak out and thirdly, surviving any possible backlash.
Ms Moss gives social media tips, from blocking abuse and other phone settings, to reporting threats.
“It’s about having the confidence to stand your ground next time,” she said.
“...I always say to people use your voice wisely and participate in a way that’s positive and shines a light on those who don’t have as much voice.”
Speaking Out is published by Harper Collins and is available in e-version and online