The Illawarra is a showcase of how far women have progressed. We have female politicians elected to represent the Illawarra at a State and Federal level, we have a female mayor in Shellharbour, local girl Sally Fitzgibbons is making head waves on the surfing front; in 2011 Narelle Clay won Business Person of the Year at the Illawarra Business Awards and Angela Saville was presented with Young Business Person of the Year.
Ally Kelly implemented the initiative, Mind Blank, which “aims to promote a better understanding of mental health problems in the local community by using theatre to discuss mental health and well-being in a safe, informative and entertaining manner.” With six people taking their lives in Australia each day, it is encouraging to see a young woman endeavouring to bring real change to this statistic.
Giulia Bonacina OAM, who recently passed away, was the founder of IT.SO.WEL and strived to improve the quality of life for immigrants in the Illawarra region by cultivating activities and support services to help them reach their full potential.
Giulia achieved much in her life, from being awarded an OAM in 2002 to receiving the 2012 United Nations Older Person Award for Wollongong. She was a torch bearer for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and was awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977.
This Friday we celebrate the 102nd anniversary of International Women’s day, a day to recognise the economic and social achievements of women past and present and to look to the future to see where further progress can still be made.
The Illawarra is blessed to have so many high achieving women who have made significant contributions in numerous fields. From public life to science, the arts, sport and government, all have helped to shape and transform our region for the better.
Our nation has a proud record of achievement in advancing Women’s rights since the days of the suffragette movement. Today’s standard bearers can capitalise on the pioneering work of so many great Australian women.
This year the theme for International Women’s Day has a focus on the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, something the Coalition has long supported.
So this Friday I encourage all women in the Illawarra to celebrate our achievements.
Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells represents NSW in the Senate and her electorate office is in Wollongong.