Cerdon College Merylands students on the steps of NSW Parliament house

On Wednesday the 7th March, we were offered the amazing opportunity to celebrate International Women’s Day at NSW Parliament House.

We experienced this occasion with a diverse group of girls from around the state and were able to listen to guest speakers, go to the NSW Legislative Assembly to watch live debates, and converse with strong women who are members of Parliament, hearing the different experiences they have experienced as women in Parliament.

The purpose of this day was to encourage young girls to be courageous and daring as leaders, and to instill qualities within us, in the hope of inspiring others to do the same. We were informed of the startling evidence of gender inequality in the workplace, and were astounded that today, a 17% pay gap still exists between men and women. Similarly, we learnt it will be around 75 years before women can expect to be paid the same as men.

Cerdon College Merrylands

One of the main highlights of our day was to have an incredible guest speaker share her story. We had the experience of meeting the inspirational Aminata Conteh Biger, who spoke to us about her incredible story of survival from her home country of Sierra Leone.

She informed us about the different issues women face in Sierra Leone such as the high mortality rates of women as well as their babies during childbirth, due to poor health services and lack of education.

She has successfully achieved creating a foundation (The Aminata Maternal Foundation) which assists young women in Sierra Leone, through improving maternal health by providing services without cost.

She continued to demonstrate a push for making a difference to improve the lives of others around us in the hope for change and reflected this year’s campaign theme for International Women's Day being “Press for Progress”.

One of the main messages that we took away from Aminata was that in order to see change, as women, we must be kinder and have more compassion for one another.

She explained to us that she often felt that there was less understanding and more judgement between women, and that she felt more comfortable sharing her ideas with men. If we expect to be treated equally by the opposite sex, we too must work with one another in an effort to spread love to all human beings, both men and women.

Overall, we now recognise that as leaders, compassion, understanding, courage and determination should be the qualities that inspire our actions, and that although women have come so far, we have a long way to go.

On Wednesday 7th March 2018, Isabella Allegretti, Kate Burton and I attended the International Women’s Day Breakfast at Novotel Parramatta, with Ms Rimac.

At this forum issues surrounding women were discussed, with one main theme being conveyed throughout the breakfast: ‘No woman should be left behind’.

The discussion of no women being left behind made us reflect on what we can do in order to bring women forward with us, supporting one another along the way, sharing resources amongst families and communities in order to ensure a safe and happy environment for women and their children no matter their race, culture, religion or circumstances, so no women will be left behind.

Two inspirational women also spoke at the breakfast, Carolyn Blanden, Principal of Warakirrri College Blacktown and Yvonne Keane, Former Mayor of the Hills Shire Council, Winner of the 2016 NSW Local Government Woman of the Year, and survivor of domestic violence, who shared their stories about not leaving people behind and the issues surrounding women worldwide which need to be combated.

These issues include early parenthood, refugees, victims of violence, culturally and educationally disadvantaged women worldwide, carers and dependant aged people whom many women have to look after.

This affects their jobs, income and social lives as caring is a full time job and limits what women can do. These issues are why International Women's Day was started, in order to speak out and advocate for equal rights for all women internationally, as well as equal education and equal opportunity, to empower and strengthen women worldwide.

As said by Carolyn Blanden “Our Grandmothers fought to give us the vote, our mothers fought to give us access to university. What will our legacy be?” On March 8, women around the world celebrated International Women's Day and continued to strive for their voice to be heard, for equal rights, pay and education to be implemented worldwide, creating a legacy for our generation.

Written By

Cerdon College Merrylands

Cerdon College Merrylands

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