Calling on Canberra to #LeadTheChange on International Women’s Day

10 March 2017

Eliza Hughes

Eliza is the Communications and Marketing Officer at YWCA Canberra

International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us all to reflect on the status of women, and celebrate the achievements, progress and action demonstrated by countless incredible women all over the world each year. While it certainly is a time for celebration, it’s not hard to forget how much is left to be done before gender equality and empowerment for all women is truly achieved.

This year’s theme, ‘Be Bold For Change’ urges us not to settle for the status quo, and each take on the responsibility of continuing to push towards a more inclusive, gender-equal world.

On Wednesday 8 March, we hosted a #LeadTheChange morning tea at the ACT Legislative Assembly, featuring three women Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) who spoke on their leadership journeys. This brought together over 90 distinguished guests, including MLAs, YWCA Canberra Board members, as well as community, government and business leaders, friends and supporters.

In her opening remarks, YWCA Canberra Board Director, Marni Pilgrim, expressed how embracing change and creating a more gender equal world is a challenge she is happy to accept.

Marni also noted the fact that many people in our community still experience disproportionate levels of disadvantage and discrimination. She emphasised that we mustn’t lose sight of the work that remains to address these critical issues, and the importance of everyone having an equal opportunity to contribute to our community.

We then heard from Deputy Chief Minister, Yvette Berry, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Nicole Lawder and Greens Member for Murrumbidgee, Caroline Le Couteur in a panel discussion facilitated by ABC Canberra’s Adrienne Francis. Each speaker described their journey into leadership, shared their views on how they can ‘lead the change’ toward gender equality, and speculated on the actions needed to achieve gender equality in the ACT.

Within the context of improving outcomes for women and girls, Caroline Le Couteur raised the significance of cultural diversity and inclusion in leadership. Yvette Berry added that existing women leaders have a responsibility to engage young women in leadership, saying “our role is to make being a woman easier than it was for us”.

Nicole Lawder spoke candidly about a personal tragedy that she suffered many years ago: an event that served as a catalyst for her journey into leadership, driving her to pursue a career in change making, and reducing inequality across the community.

YWCA Canberra’s Executive Director, Frances Crimmins then gave her closing remarks, illustrating why achieving gender equality is critical to the success of our city, and why we all must work together at this important point in history.

“At YWCA Canberra we know that a gender equal society will not just emerge organically. It needs to be driven by strong leadership, legislative and regulatory reform, and appropriate resourcing.

“We believe that the ACT is primed to be the leading jurisdiction on gender equality in Australia” she said.

Before bringing everyone together for morning tea, Frances invited all attendees to stay connected, and continue our progress towards achieving gender equality across all sectors and areas of the community.

“If we do, we will all benefit” she said.

You can find out more about YWCA Canberra’s policy priorities here, or sign up to become a member here. Head to Flickr to check out all the photos from the International Women’s Day #LeadTheChange morning tea.

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