Melanie Ohl when she visited Canberra earlier this year.
Melanie Ohl when she visited Canberra earlier this year. Contributed

Mum's off to New York

JUGGLING study, work, family and life may be a tough gig, but Melanie Ohl wouldn't have it any other way.

The married mother-of-three has been awarded a scholarship with Global Voices, which offers young Australians the opportunity to attend international summits and be involved in international policy.

Mrs Ohl just completed her fourth year of a part-time Public Health degree with Central Queensland University and decided to apply for the scholarship which features a 10-day trip to New York city.

"After writing a statement of intent and a short thesis outline late one night based on women's economic empowerment within Australia, I thought I had very little chance of winning,” the 29-year-old said.

"Several weeks later, to my surprise I received a phone interview from Global Voices.

"I remember getting off the phone feeling very elated and saying to my husband 'what if I actually do win this and get to go to New York?'.

"A week later I received the very exciting news that I had been selected as the CQU recipient for the Global Voices scholarship to attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York.”

Mrs Ohl described being selected as "hitting the jackpot”.

"A topic I loved, a place I couldn't wait to visit, and the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said.

As part of the the scholarship, Mrs Ohl was flown to Canberra with five other delegates for a private tour of Parliament House and to meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"I also had to write a research report on women's economic empowerment and an editorial piece,” she said.

"Having lived in the Central Highlands for the past 12 years, and bringing our young family up in Bluff, it seemed appropriate to write my research paper on women's livelihoods in regional, industrial communities, and the under representation of women in mining in Australia.

"I absolutely love living here, but have experienced first-hand what it's like being a woman in a masculine-dominated region.”

Mrs Ohl said she hoped her research would empower other women in regional areas to strive, and also uncover the issues rural women faced so that new policies could be implemented to improve gender equality.

"Receiving this scholarship has been a wonderful confidence booster and I'm really proud to show my kids what you can achieve when you work hard,” she said.

"I really encourage regional women to take on opportunities like these and put themselves out there.

"I have never been to New York, so I am so very excited for my 10-day trip in March. After being used to 40 degree heat here, I'm hoping I can handle the cold weather over there. It will be a far cry from Bluff.”

Keep an eye out for Mrs Ohl's editorial, Welcome to the Circus, based on her life as a working/studying mum.


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