USE the word feminist, or the term gender equality and chances are, a negative - often hostile - reaction will come your way.
Why is it that the topic of women's rights stirs such emotion? Perhaps it's a lack of recognising the work the women before us have done to secure the rights many take for granted today. For many, it's a lack of recognition of the challenges women continue to face.
A workshop in Horsham next month aims to inform women about the work of a councillor ahead of local government elections next year. The gender-specific training is part of a Local Women Leading Change campaign, recognising the important roles women play in their communities.
The Wimmera has elected many women to council - but not all women councillors supported the workshop, saying the idea was "patronising to women" and they were "not interested" in gender equality - a term which made them "angry". What a saddening reaction from women who, once upon a time, wouldn't have been taken seriously for election in a leadership position.
Women need to stand for the right reasons, and earn election on their merit.
But the act of encouraging and empowering women to have their voices heard, to respect those voices, to build diversity around the boardroom table and ensure representation of a broader section of the community is vital if a council, group or organisation is to properly reflect its people. Not to mention what this represents to young girls.
Research shows women feel they need to meet 100 per cent of the criteria before applying for a job, while men usually apply after meeting about 60 per cent. When looking at female and male candidates on LinkedIn, recruiters were 13 per cent less likely to open a woman's profile. But when women do apply for the job, they are 16 per cent more likely than men to get hired - and if the role is more senior than their current position, that number goes up to 18 per cent.
We've undoubtedly come a long way. But there's a long way to go - and that starts with empowering the next generation that anything is possible.
Jessica Grimble, editor