Student's essay to women wins big

23:12, Aug 30 2013
katherine mcindoe
TOUCHING WORDS: 19-year-old Victoria University student Katherine McIndoe has won an international essay competition against 11,000 other applicants from 55 countries.

A Victoria University student's heartfelt essay on being one of the lucky ones has taken top prize in an international competition, beating more than 11,000 other entries.

Katherine McIndoe, 19, won The Royal Commonwealth Society essay competition for a letter she wrote to the millions of ''voiceless'' girls worldwide who are abused, trafficked and forced into prostitution.   

"I kind of wanted to write this as a letter to those women who have been lost to the world for no other reason than that they are women," Miss McIndoe said.

She described her lot in life as ''luck'' and said there was nothing that made her any different from the girls she was writing to in the essay, entitled ''A letter to the lost girls''.

She said the news of her win had still not sunk in, though she had started thinking about the award ceremony in London in November.

The judging panel said it was Miss McIndoes's personal voice throughout the essay and the strong emotional response elicited from the reader that made her the supreme winner.


The  former Wellington Girls College student is studying for a bachelor of arts in development studies, and a bachelor of music in classical performance voice.

She has always been interested in the development of less fortunate countries and said the feminist texts she read in high school sparked her interest in women's issues.  

"I have this real sense of us all being the same because there is just fundamentally no difference between a girl like me and a girl in Ethiopia or Afghanistan or the Solomon Islands." 

The competition received submissions from 830 schools in 55 Commonwealth countries and territories.

Miss McIndoe spent a week and a half over summer writing the essay and a couple of days reviewing it before she submitted it in May.


In the face of such inertia, what we need is courage, passion, and a willingness to confront unflinchingly things that we would rather ignore.

We can't be measured and reasonable, and we can't drag our feet, claiming that a problem of this magnitude demands distant solutions decades down the track.

We have to be unreasonable, we have to be angry, we have to be uncompromising, and we have to be bold.

The time has passed for incremental, unhurried development: there is a need now for courageous action.

We need to go boldly in the face of those who accuse us of naivety, shout down all those who laugh at our idealism.

To read the full essay, click here (PDF).

The Dominion Post