When I became an Endometriosis Australia ambassador, I pledged to end the silence on this debilitating disease that affects one in 10 women throughout the world and one in 10 women here in Australia.
Today, 17 young women have descended on Canberra under the Plan International Australia 'Girls take over' program. Of those 17, there are at least two who have heartbreaking stories of their experiences with endometriosis. I want to share some of those stories today, because endometriosis is limiting their leadership potential, their opportunities in our community. The first is Holly. She's been on the pill since she was 12. She said:
Doctors would judge me and make insidious comments about my sexuality. I wish Australian students and women were educated about the disease and spoke openly about the mental and emotional implications associated with endo.
This hidden disease has turned my body into a torture chamber that has impacted my ability to be a leader. Often, I am incapacitated for one or two weeks a month and require hospitalisation or codeine to reduce the pain, which in most cases doesn't work.
Every day, one in 10 women live with this disease, and many unknowingly go through their lives without help because they've been told to 'suck it up'. We've got to end the silence on this, and we've got to end it now.
Finally, I want to acknowledge Caitlin Figueiredo, who wrote this speech, and—like most women on the Plan International scheme—doesn't take any credit for it. Also, Watawieh to Norfolk Island primary school. Welcome to Canberra!