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Each year, we send students and staff to unite together and raise funds for positive change at the UN Women National Australia’s International Women’s Day breakfast.
On International Women’s Day (IWD), we celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women across the globe. It is also a chance to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. IWD celebrations also provide an opportunity for our students to unite, network and help to raise funds to support gender equality around the world.
On Friday 6 March, 17 students attended an IWD breakfast with Ms Nathan and Ms Seale at the ICC Sydney’s Grand Ballroom. It was an opportunity to listen to the three guest speakers, and to unite together with other women to raise funds for meaningful change.
Sonali Hedditch leads UN Women’s Second Chance Education program in Australia. She highlighted some of the factors that prevent women from entering the workforce, including access to childcare and transport and access to a quality education. She explained that becoming a mother at a young age can also trap women into a cycle of poverty. She told the audience how the UN Second Chance Education program is partnering with grassroots initiatives in Australia to help provide women with an avenue for self-empowerment and financial independence.
Luz Restrepo is the Founder and CEO of SisterWorks - All Cities. As a Colombian asylum seeker, Luz founded the program in order to help migrant women to learn English and acquire some creative skills, so they can gain employment. She spoke passionately about her personal experiences of disconnection and hardship when she first arrived in Australia and how empathy and connection from other women can empower positive change.
Wendy Yarnold is the CEO and Chairperson of Real Futures. She shared her personal story of experiencing racism and sexism as she struggled to support herself. She launched her business from her local café and it has since gone on to employ hundreds of women through a range of sectors. It has offices in NSW, WA and NT with 90% Aboriginal staff and 70% women.
Ally in Year 10 said, “Attending the IWD Breakfast was the most wonderful experience. I left the event feeling empowered and educated about women's rights on an international scale. The speaker whose words really stuck with me was Luz Restrepo. Hearing the story of her migration to Australia, and starting a new, much needed program was truly inspiring and opened my eyes to an issue in women's rights that I had never thought about before. Thank you for this amazing experience.”
Charlotte in Year 9 said, “I found Luz Restrepo’s story very inspiring. She spoke about how she came from a relatively good life in her home country to Australia, where she found it difficult to make friends and form new relationships because of her inability to speak English. She also spoke about the stigma surrounding immigrants and asylum seekers. Luz said she eventually found her place in Australia by helping others just like her. I think that was one of the most important messages for International Women’s Day, one that represents finding your own place in a society where people mistreat and judge you for your gender and background. Thank you for this amazing opportunity, I won’t forget it!”
And Alexandra in Year 11 said, “The impact these talks had on me was profound. It helped me to appreciate the perseverance of the previous generations of women, all of whom faced sexism and discrimination. And it highlighted that - in many areas of society - there is a need for continued efforts to ensure that overall equality is achieved.”