A weekend meeting between two trailblazing women
LOBBYING politicians and launching a social awareness campaign is not what you would expect from most eight-year-olds, but Brisbane’s Malia Knox had done just that and has no plans to stop any time soon.
Malia is on a mission to know why every time she visits a park, she only sees plaques, pictures and statues of men. She is also on a mission to change it.
She has launched the hashtag #FemaleFaces4PublicPlaces to try and balance gender representation in all public spaces within Queensland.
The young lady has even written to Women’s Minister Di Farmer requesting action.
“I asked my mum why these names were on the plaques and my mum told me that these were important people back from 1925 who had the honour of planting the trees,” Malia wrote to the Minister.
“I asked my mum why only two of the trees that I counted were planted by women and the other 72 were planted by men.
“My mum told me that things were very different back in 1925 and women didn’t get as many opportunities to achieve the things they do today.
“I then said, but it is 2020 now and I know lots of amazing women who have accomplished so much and done so many remarkable things for our country; where are the trees planted by these women?”
On the weekend, Malia got to meet one of her idols, Aunty Recheal Daley – Australia’s first Indigenous female train driver – who was in charged of getting commuters from A to B in Sydney through the 90s and 2000s and now resides in Mt Morgan.
Ms Daley said it was very humbling to meet the ambitious young woman.
“She’s a beautiful little girl,” she said.
“Until she contacted me, I wasn’t aware there was a discrepancy between male and female statues.
“I though yes, there isn’t equal representation – it’s quite valid.”
Ms Daley published a book a few years ago called ‘Aunty Recheal becomes a Train Driver’ and it caught the fascination of Malia.
“I’ve always said to my family that if just one person the book has inspired, it has done its job,” she said.
Ms Daley felt it was a cause the public would get behind, drawing the parallels to discussions surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement and statues of figures with questionable pasts.
She had wanted to drive trains ever since she was a child just like her dad.
She said he would often tell her “you don’t want to do that, it’s a blokes world”.
The ride wasn’t smooth, but she made a good run at it, even driving trains while pregnant.
“I thought, I’m only pregnant, I can still do my job,” Ms Daley said.
She spoke of some of the systemic issues at the time including squeezing into male uniforms as they did not make them for women – until she designed a new uniform for herself and future women of the industry.
She took on numerous other battles to make the industry more women-friendly.
“If I don’t do it, it’s going to be left to the next female,” she said.
There were many men that were encouraging, but there were other pockets of men who made sure that you weren’t welcome.
“It’s to do with times and change but I had to pick my battles, I had to figure out when is the right time to speak up or let it go,” she said.
“Be kind for yourself and know your rights.”
Aunty Recheal gave Malia a signed copy of her book, with the following note:
To my dearest friend Malia,
Be true to yourself.
Be the best person you can be
Have dreams, have fun, live life with no regrets.
Keep learning, keep asking, keep trying.
Love from your friend Aunty Recheal.
Malia concluded her letter to the Minister with the intentions of her campaign.
“This is not about fundraising or petitioning just to get a couple of extra female statues,” she wrote.
“This is about breaking the “bronze ceiling” once and for all and making sure it stays that way for me, my daughters and their daughters to come so that we are seeing and believing that women ARE important.”
Minister Farmer told Malia that she would read the letter out in parliament later this month.
Only three per cent of statues in Australia honour real women.
There are only two statues of real women in Brisbane.
In Australia, there are more statues of animals than there are of real Australian women