What Ruth Bader Ginsburg meant to a 20-year-old Aussie on the other side of the world

A 2010 portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Photo: Steve Petteway, SCOTUS/Wikimedia Commons)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Where to even begin?

This woman was truly one of a kind fighting for equal rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and much much more. In all honesty she was such an amazing influence for not only women but for everyone and there isn’t much she hadn’t done to benefit those around her.

News of her death – an announcement made by the United States Supreme Court on Saturday – came as a profound shock for me and the many people around the world for whom she was a shining light.

And her death, at age 87, from complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas, may yet have profound consequences for the US justice system.

A total of 27 years in the nation’s highest court was an astounding achievement on its own, but it’s what she did with that time that set her apart.

Early in her career something that really stood out to me is her battle with sexism at a young age. She comes from ‘a generation of women in which they had to be three times better than men in order to get half the recognition of the average man’, Reader’s Digest once wrote, when it declared her one of 30 women pioneers who had changed the world. She got used to this during her time at Harvard and Columbia law schools.

Ruth always had to prove herself and was often poorly treated but she did not accept any of it – and this is what I admire about her most. As a woman I’ve experienced this in many situations myself.

It happens in most areas of life, like the all-boys football team I was on where no one was happy to have me – but I proved myself and became accepted. Ruth was one of those leading lights who became an example to inspire women to stand up for themselves. Equality is a long way from being achieved by women and people like RBG are vital to bringing about that change.

The United States is perhaps the world’s most influential country, setting standards that often flow on to other nations and the role of Justice Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the US Supreme Court, sent out a clear message about the authority of women and their place as equals alongside men.

She co-founded the women’s rights project at ACLU, and kicked-off many sex-discrimination cases , tackling one at a time and slowly making a difference.

I worry about the nasty fights that will now unfold in order to fill her position. But this is also a time for the US to come together in support and recognition of her wonderful life and find a worthy substitute who can live up to her name and deeds.

It’s a time to celebrate her magnificent work and cherish everything she did for women’s rights.

If you take away one thing from her life let it be her words of “fight for things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you”.

Main picture Steve Petteway/SCOTUS/Wikimedia Commons.