As part of our ongoing blog series, we will be sitting down and have conversations with a number of advocates in our local community. This week we speak to Kate Marchesi from Young Queenslanders for the Right to Choose.
What is your name and role, and what is your passion in life?
My Name is Kate Marchesi and I am the co-founder and President of Young Queenslanders for the Right to Choose. I am also the Queensland Convenor of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights. I have two passions in life; the first is for the law, and the second is for women’s rights. For me, it has been interesting to see the relationship, and conflict between the two. Sometimes, and especially in the context of abortion rights, my two passions don’t always agree. The law has always played a very significant role in the oppression of women, and in particular, it has provided legitimacy for sexist and patriarchal ideologies and policies. It has also been historically used as a tool of exclusion, to ensure the survival of these ideas as law.
Why do you do what you do?
My inspiration and passion lies in reconciling my two loves; the law and women’s rights.
We have certainly made long strides since the days of the law’s deliberate and forceful exclusion of women, but there is still a long way to go before the experiences of women are not just tolerated exceptions to the rule, but form a meaningful part of the story of the law. My particular focus as an advocate has been on elevating the voices of women. Because we are not yet at a stage where these experiences automatically form part of the public discussion, I think there is still a big role for advocates to play, to bring these missing pieces to their rightful places. This role is still needed given that institutions like politics and the law remain inaccessible to minorities including women, not by way of force or rule, but by way of form. I think of my role in this process as the facilitator; one who can take the voices and experiences of women and make them fit into a form these institutions can understand.
Are you a feminist and what does feminism mean to you?
I am a FEMINIST.
I think I always was a feminist, I just didn’t know the word until I studied it at university. I think education gave me the tools to recognise sexism, and that my experience of sexism was not unique, but formed part of a story many women have heard over and over again. Feminism, to me, means the belief in the social, political and economic equality of all genders and the recognition of the intersectionality of feminism, that is, that there is no one story of oppression. There are many different forms of oppression, sexism being one, that affect people in many different ways, to varying degrees.
What do you think is the most pressing social problem today (globally)?
I think many social problems today can be reduced back to a lack of understanding and ignorance. Having an open mind, willingness to learn and trying to avoid pre-conceived bias, or at least acknowledging it, is crucial to addressing any social problem.
If there was resource you think everyone should view, what would it be?
There are of course many amazing and thought provoking feminist books and resources written by fantastic authors - of which there are too many to name. However, to be honest, after five years of law school and countless readings - my vote goes to the movie, Thelma and Louise. I think it’s easy to get weighed down in and distracted by the politics of feminism, the different waves and theories, etc, that it is sometimes helpful to keep it simple, and bring it back to a good movie about two women, standing up for themselves not giving a f%*& about what anyone thinks of them.