Thursday was a spectacular day, and we can only hope it marks the beginning of so much more to come.
It started by waking up to the news that TIME had named the ‘Silence Breakers’ behind the #MeToo movement the ‘person of the year’.
No Donald Trump. No tech billionaire. But rather some historic acknowledgement on the significance of women speaking up about their experiences of harassment, bullying and assault.
And the day ended with one of the best political triumphs of our time: legalising marriage equality in Australia.
We’re quick to get cynical here on Women’s Agenda. We see and hear about some shitty behaviour, and we like to call it out. We pick on the dinosaurs. We push back on the status quo. We constantly push for business, governments and institutions to do better.
We also like to acknowledge the best in leadership. To highlight the women and men who put everything on the line to push for something better: a better business or industry; a more sustainable environment; more truth and accountability; more acknowledgement and support for humanitarian issues locally and abroad; better laws and workplace practices that are more inclusive and enable everyone’s opinions and talents to thrive.
And yesterday, we got to witness so much of that leadership in action – including from leaders whom we’ve previously been quick to criticise.
Indeed, we’ve expressed our cynicism at the considerable lack of action from our politicians over the past year. We’ve questioned if this is the result of a system built on ‘merit’.
But we felt nothing but love, respect and hope for what occurred in Parliament House just before dinner time on Thursday the 7th December.
Many of us will remember exactly where we were and who we were with when we personally heard about or saw what happened on our screens.
When the division was called for the final vote on the same-sex marriage bill, we witnessed bi-partisan support for change in full colour. We saw politicians you’d think would be sworn enemies embracing. We saw differences put aside to promote a new level of basic decency, love and respect. The house looked decidedly lopsided with so many members together on the ‘yes’ side.
“What a day for love, for equality, for respect,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. “Australia has done it.”
I’m not convinced Turnbull can claim this victory – although history may remember it that way. But I was particularly happy to witness his absolute pleasure in the result.
It was incredible to see the overwhelming support for ‘yes’ – a yes that finally (after far too long) came with no further compromises, despite the best intentions of a handful of conservatives.
The year’s not over, yet. But yesterday’s result – and what we witnessed in Parliament – suggests we can be optimistic about the year to come.
In the end, perhaps it’s true that ‘all you need is love’. As long as the silence is broken, and voices are heard.
Well done Australia.