International Women’s Day Great Debate Brisbane envisions: “The future is female”





The Institute of Managers and Leaders’ (IML) annual International Women’s Day Great Debate in Brisbane has concluded that “the future should be led by a feminism that eradicates male dominance in society”. On Thursday 8th March, six successful Australian leaders were pitched head-to-head at the sold-out lunchtime event, debating the topic “The Future is Female” to raise funds for IML’s IWD charity partner, YWCA.


Inspired by the iconic feminist slogan, ‘The Future is Female’ – a 42-year-old phrase which first appeared on t-shirts designed in a New York feminist bookstore – the Great Debate asked not whether equality will be achieved in the future, but how it will be achieved. With two popular approaches to feminism dividing the world in the movement for equality, teams engaged in a comedic, insightful and empowering debate that argued whether the future should be led by a feminism that liberates, or a feminism that equalises.


Ultimately, the event’s attendees voted by acclamation for the powerful and creative arguments of the affirmative team. The affirmative team maintained that radical, fundamental change of the status quo was needed while the negative team argued that the way forward is “collaboration and not conflict” and that you “can’t achieve equality by excluding 50% of the population”.


“In a society dominated by men, equality does not mean equity” argued the affirmative team’s speaker Stephanie Oates, Director of Broad Aperture. “Women need to aim higher than simply level with men.”


The Great Debate’s Brisbane was emceed by lawyer, author and presenter, Corinne Grant, most well-known for her bold, feminist and comedic voice on Australian television shows such as Rove, The Glass House, Spicks and Specks and Good News Week. Grant described the debate as “feisty, funny and fabulous”.


Attended by more than 2,300 in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, the sold-out debates raised a total of $51,000 nationally for the YWCA, supporting women and children often in escaping domestic violence through shelter, food, education and mentoring. Built on a legacy of women being activists for equality, safety and empowerment since 1855, YWCA continues to strive for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls to attain a vision of peace, justice, freedom and dignity.


“We couldn’t be prouder to be supporting YWCA this year on International Women’s Day to create a world where ‘every girl can find her possible’”, said IML Chief Executive David Pich FIML. “On the 21st anniversary of the Great Debate, we’re focusing on the future of leadership. With our debates spotlighting the importance of a future that includes more women, the Institute is taking action on an important issue that affects the futures of so many women and girls around the country. It’s time to break the chains of domestic and family violence and ensure all women receive equal respect, voice and opportunities.”


“Thank you to all our Great Debate attendees, partners and members of the Australian management community for your generosity and support. Thank you for contributing to the conversation around a future with more women in leadership. Through events like the IWD Great Debate, we seek to change Australian society for the better. Change is needed and it couldn’t come soon enough.”


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