Libby says take back your power

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai flashes a victory sign.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai flashes a victory sign.

At only 13 years of age Parkes High School Student Libby Hoyle is already an outspoken advocate for issues she is passionate about. 

The Year 8 student recently came first in her age group in the Oxley division of the Country Women’s Association (CWA) Public Speaking Competition in Condobolin, then when on to win the inter group competition in Trundle. 

Below is her address on the topic “power”.  

I’ve been aware of gender inequality for a long time, and I’ve been a feminist for just as long.

At 5, I was asking why women in bikinis were kissing men who won car races.

Why are women valued for their looks over their brains?

Why are so many women denied control over their own bodies and lives.

In October 2012, Malala Yousafzai was on the bus to the school her father had founded.

As a woman, the Taliban believed that her place was as an uneducated wife and mother.

For defying the “rule” Malala was shot in the face by a Taliban gunman.

Just weeks ago, a suicide bomber murdered 22 girls at a Manchester pop concert.

Scores more were injured.

Ariana Grande is a performer whose songs are popular with young women.

The attack targeted young, independent women who were celebrating their interests, and the power they enjoy as members of a free society.

Just last week, a Saudi Arabian women’s activist and parliamentary candidate was arrested and detained for the second time by Saudi authorities.

Her crime? Driving a car.

Are you noticing a pattern?

Too often, women who use their power, who try to claim control over their lives, are literally or metaphorically shot down.

Too often, women are oppressed, treated as property and even mutilated. It’s not right.

The 300 girls kidnapped from their Nigerian school to be the wives of Boko Haram fighters; girls who have their bodies mutilated and health put at risk, so they won’t have sex with anyone other than their future husband; girls as young as 11 forced into marriage and childbirth before their bodies are ready, just so their families no longer need feed them.

This is reality for too many women today. And yet, people say they aren’t feminists.

Feminism isn’t just about us, safe in our democratic country.

It’s about all women and the rights we should all have.

The right to control the decisions made about our bodies and our lives.

That’s what power is, having control.

And those of us who have it, have a duty to help others claim it.

Malala Yousafzai survived, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for her work as a women and children’s activist.

The Manchester concert was re-staged in an act of defiance.

And even after being incarcerated numerous times, the Saudi activist continues to work and defy the laws that restrict her.

Women taking control, because power is not just for those with a Y chromosome.