Education is an integral part of society. It allows us to gain knowledge, broaden our mind, and reach our full potential. Without it, we are ill-informed and ignorant. You’ve been to school – most of us in New Zealand have, considering that it’s the law.

Education has become a part of our everyday lives – we don’t get a choice in this. Have you thought about what life would be like without school? What if you weren’t allowed to participate in it? What about the lack of gender equality that education once had, and how in some countries, it remains? You might have the ‘Who cares – move on’ approach, but I don’t. I believe that in order to have a positive future, we should look to the past and learn from our mistakes.

Studying female authors this year in school has taught me a lot about both women and education. As I’m sure you’re aware, women haven’t always been encouraged to be educated. The Victorian era was brutal for the female entity, the stereotype being: women were to cook, clean, and look after the household and kids, while the men were to venture out into the world, get a job, and provide income for the family. This was how it went down for a long time.

Gender equality has slowly appeared in modern society – the normality of female submission and male power has long-since expired, in most developed areas of the world. Women are now more educated, higher up in the workforce, and less reliant on males for financial security. Freedom and independence in women have has amplified, and there is widespread recognition of this notion.

New Zealand is a relatively progressive country. We were the first to grant women the right to vote, thanks to Kate Sheppard. We were among the first to legalise gay marriage, and as time perpetuates, we continue to progress in the right direction. It’s encouraging to see how women have risen up the ranks in education, in the workforce, in life.

Take our Prime Minister as an example. Love her or hate her, Jacinda Ardern is pretty revolutionary. It’s refreshing and inspiring to see another female take over – just three of the 40 Prime Ministers New Zealand has had have been female. That’s a good proportion, considering the fact that America hasn’t officially had a single female President. Of course, a nation’s gender equality isn’t measured by its number of female leaders, but this proportion does signify that females in certain countries are valued in education and in the workforce more than in others.

It shouldn’t be, but it is a luxury for me, as a female, to look forward to the possibility of university education. A few hundred years ago, it wasn’t an option at all. Even now, it isn’t an option for some. Nowadays, in New Zealand, being female won’t hold us back from earning degrees or other qualifications, from succeeding in the workforce, or from leading the country. Imagine being told what to do, being discriminated, and not being allowed to attain the qualifications for a career you wanted. It sounds terrible, right? It was once the followed ideology.

I’m thankful for the opportunities, of the access to education – a right – that wasn’t present a century or so ago. I hope women continue to fight injustice, not only in education but also in everyday life. To all my fellow females out there: Don’t give up. You can do anything.

Sarah is a Year 13 student who loves writing and the subject of English. She intends on one day becoming an editor or technical writer.

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