7 October, 2014 - Australia’s most prominent women pen inspiring advice to teen selves

A new website asks nine of Australia’s most prominent women leaders what advice they would give to their teenage selves, and encourages women across Australia to send an inspiring letter of advice to themselves and to teenage girls everywhere.

Plan International Australia asked former Governor General The Honourable Quentin Bryce AD CVO, Today host Lisa Wilkinson, Winners and Losers actor Melanie Vallejo, indigenous model Samantha Harris, musician Clare Bowditch, Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie, Australian cricket and soccer international Ellyse Perry, ballerina Lucinda Dunn, and award-winning geneticist Elena Tucker to take part in the unique Taking The Lead initiative.

Each penned a letter to their teenage selves with wise advice for all teenage girls preparing to step into lives of achievement and leadership.

Says Quentin Bryce: “The advice I would give myself is about confidence – about the confidence to speak up, to ask questions, to stand in the front without feeling awkward, even embarrassed. Believe in yourself. Volunteer. Stand tall and proud.”

Lisa Wilkinson recalls her teenage years of bullying as she tells herself: “You will know sadness, fears and disappointments, too. But from where I sit, I wouldn't change a single second of what lies ahead.”

Australian women are invited to visit the Taking The Lead website to write their own letter of advice for their teenage selves, while teenage girls can draw on their advice for inspiration.

The launch of the site is part of Plan’s 10 Days of Action for the UN’s International Day of the Girl on October 11. Already, the child rights organisation has led a delegation of two dozen girls and young women from across Australia to meet Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and hand her their Girls Declaration, outlining measures to make the world a more equitable place for girls and women everywhere.

Plan also released on October 1 a survey of 1,000 Australian girls and young women, which revealed that many teenagers feel their lives can be dominated by sexism, which is putting many off stepping up into leadership roles.

Susanne Legena, Deputy CEO of Plan International Australia, says: “Being a teenager can be a confusing and difficult time, and even more so for teenage girls who are subjected every day to casual sexism that can belittle, intimidate and demean them.”

“But the Taking The Lead website is a way of reaching out to girls and showing them that they can rise above these sort of petty blows, as so many inspiring women have before them. Many of these women have been generous enough to give their time to show girls that a career of leadership and fulfilment can still be realised.”

The Taking The Lead website can be found at: http://becauseiamagirl.com.au/takingthelead

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious or political affiliations.

Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945