Illawarra International Women’s Day luncheon at WIN Entertainment Centre saw up to 900 women (and a few men) from across the region gather to discuss the key issues facing women today.
- The event saw scholarships given to five talented women in the area.
- The Illawarra International Women’s Day Committee urged the community to ‘be bold for change’
- Keynote speaker Magda Szubanski spoke about equal opportunity – and how much she loved coming to Wollongong.
How the day unfolded
1.40pm: Keynote speaker of the Illawarra International Women’s Day luncheon at WIN Entertainment Centre, Magda Szubanski, has taken to the stage.
During the IWD panel discussion, Tania Brown said female representation in the engineering faculty has only grown two per in the last 15 years.
She said females need a fairer representation in parliament and key positions.
Nicki Bowman said fathers have a vital role to play.
11.44am: Helping women achieve goals
The recipients of the 2017 Illawarra International Women’s Day scholarships are a diverse group, yet they all share a common aim.
The five women – an athlete, an artist, a singer-songwriter, a businesswoman and an educator – all use their talents and passion to help empower other women in their communities.
And each of the award winners plans to use their $2000 grant to not only achieve personal goals, but also to continue their efforts to assist others.
The scholarship recipients are:
- Michelle Rush was awarded the Aunty Mary Scholarship for Indigenous Women
- Lucy Mills was awarded the Creative Spirit Scholarship for Women
- Sarah Lisle was awarded the Cate Stevenson Scholarship for Women (Education, Business and Community Service)
- Libby Bloxham was awarded the Beryl Lewis Scholarship for Older Women
- Chloe Heffernan was awarded the Kerryn McCann Scholarship for Women (Sports).
11am: In 2017, the Illawarra International Women’s Day Committee is urging the community to ‘be bold for change’.
Committee chair Vicki Tiegs said only bold actions – by individuals and organisations – would help create gender equality in the workplace, the home and in the community.
“Each one of us ... can be a leader within our own spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity,’’ she said.
“Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential they bring to our local community.
“Through meaningful celebration and targeted bold action, we can all be responsive and responsible leaders in creating a more gender inclusive world.’’
Ms Tiegs said simple ideas could bring about change – such as challenging organisers of all-male speaking panel events to include a female viewpoint; educating boys about stereotypes and violence against women; nominating women for senior jobs or donating time to a female-focused charity.
It’s been 12 years since the Illawarra committee was formed and the luncheon established, ahead of the global awareness day on March 8.
The aim, Ms Tiegs said, is to continue to raise the issues facing women and to prompt important conversations around those.
The event acknowledges women making a difference in the community through annual sponsorships, while funds are also raised for local charities which support girls and women.
‘’This year we will donate funds to the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre for their program which supports women with a disability, and educates them about domestic violence – how to identify it and how to get support,’’ she said.
Raised in a matriarchal family, Ms Tiegs knew nothing of gender inequality – until she started work at the age of 17.
‘’My grandmother was a former hotel licensee and when my grandfather died, she also had to run the family property. My mother worked the farm from the age of 12 and gave up going to high school to do it,’’ she said.
‘’I grew up on the land and I didn’t know what inequality was … until I started work. For me, it was quite natural for women to work beside the men and be acknowledged and rewarded for their efforts.’’
However she said she’s been fortunate to have have had mentors throughout her career – mostly male – and would like all young women to have the same opportunities.
‘’At the end of the day gender inequality is not an issue that women have to solve – it’s for men and women, boys and girls, to work together,’’ she said.