International Day of the Girl 2019
Recently I saw the film “Ride Like a Girl” – it’s a wonderful film; in fact, it’s so good, I’ve seen it twice! “Ride Like a Girl” is the story of Michelle Payne, who, as you will surely know, was the first female jockey to ever win the Melbourne Cup. You may or may not know also that Michelle Payne is a Loreto girl, having attending Loreto College Ballarat, along with her older sisters, before she left school to start her professional riding career.
The film depicts her as a young girl, growing up on a farm outside Ballarat, being raised by her Dad and older siblings after the tragic death of her mother when Michelle was just a baby. She is a feisty, funny, confident girl, with big dreams and big plans for her future, mostly centered around repeating the events of her favorite film Phar Lap, and one day riding a winner in the Melbourne Cup. Michelle is shown as girl child in whom the seeds of the confident, authentic and sincere young woman she would become are already well evident.
Of course Michelle faces many hurdles (pun intended) in her quest to follow her dream, not the least of which was the attitude of the racing industry that told her repeatedly that female jockeys were just not up to the task. Needless to say, being told she “rides like a girl’ was not meant as a compliment.
But Michelle does ride like a girl, like a true Loreto girl in fact. Because to ‘ride like a girl’ really means to ride with passion, persistence and determination. To ‘think like a girl’ means to think with depth, consideration and curiosity. To ‘fight like a girl’ means to strike out for equality, freedom and justice. And to ‘dream like a girl’ means to imagine a world where the potential of all girls no matter where they are born, what their parents do, the colour of their skin, their type of citizenship, their choice of identity or their health and safety, is no barrier to their fully human flourishing into the people they were lovingly created by God to be.
My niece Lucie is 6 years old and loves horses. She also loves footy, Toy Story 4, bed time stories and collecting the eggs from her backyard chooks. She is the best of girls. On this year’s Day of the Girl, my hope for Lucie is that she will always be free to ‘ride like a girl’. Let’s make sure together that our Loreto family does everything we can to ensure that same freedom is enjoyed by every girl, the Michelles, the Lucies and those we do not know by name, through the way we educate, inform and advocate for, and with them… these girls who will run the world!
Author: Michelle McCarty