The young girl, Malia Knox, called on the Queensland government through her FemaleFaces4PublicFaces initiative—created with the help of her mother, who is a member of the Queensland Teachers’ Union.
In a post on Facebook, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called Malia a “young woman making big changes.”
“Thanks to Malia’s advocacy, we’ve amended the framework for monuments to make sure diversity is considered when commissioning new statues, pictures, or plaques so more women are represented,” Palaszczuk wrote.
Queensland Attorney-general Shannon Fentiman is also supportive of the changes. She said there are only three statues of women in Brisbane and applauded Knox for her efforts in raising the issue with the government and authorities.
“We know there is a huge disparity between male and female representation across our public monuments thanks to Malia’s work on her #femalefaces4publicplaces project,” she said.
Malia and her mother created the movement “to pass a law, similar to one in San Francisco, that mandates 50/50 gender representation on statues, pictures, and plaques in public.”
In 2018, San Francisco acknowledged that the city’s public statues were overwhelmingly male. As a result, the city government passed a new law requiring that at least 30 percent of artworks installed on city streets depict real-life women.
In a letter to the Queensland government, Knox wrote that she was “horrified” to find, when visiting a display of the 100 Queensland Greats Awards, that only a quarter of the plaques were dedicated to women.
“I don’t want young girls like me who are constantly seeing important men to start believing that only men are important,” she wrote in the letter (pdf).”When young girls can’t see important, accomplished women in public life, it starts to feel like it’s impossible to become one,” she said.
“I always say ‘you can’t be what you can’t see,” Fentiman echoed the sentiment. “And if we can honour women’s achievements and have them on display for young girls everywhere, then we are helping to show young girls that they can do anything.”
Malia’s campaign to the Queensland parliament has so far received nearly 800 signatures.