PEOPLE from throughout the Corner Inlet district assembled at Manna Gum Community House in Foster on Tuesday March 8, 2022 to enjoy lunch together and to “break the bias” on International Women’s Day (IWD).
Balloons in shades of purple, one of IWD’s three colours alongside green and white, greeted more than 50 local women as they passed through the gate leading into Manna Gum’s grounds.
They were greeted by photographic portraits of splendid women from the district’s past and present, including Anastasia Thornley, Ethel Smallwood, Olive Worboys, Eva Hendrie, Jan Mildenhall, and Nadia Stefani.
After dining on a selection of chicken, salmon or vegetarian salad wraps prepared by Foster café The Kitchen Table and sponsored by Prom Coast Plumbing, the women stood shoulder-to-shoulder among the portraits for a group image of the occasion.
With their wrists crossed in a gesture of solidarity with the IWD 2022 campaign theme of #BreakTheBias, the people gladly celebrated the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women from all around the globe.
#BreakTheBias asks people to “imagine a gender equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination [and] is diverse, equitable and inclusive, where difference is valued and celebrated.”
The rationale behind the theme continues, stating that “together we can forge women’s equality” and “collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.”
The first IWD gathering in 1911 was supported by more than a million people, and today IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere.
Marked annually on March 8, IWD is a call to action for accelerating gender parity, rallying for women’s equality and supporting female-focused charities and organisations.
This year’s Corner Inlet IWD observance included four guest speakers who discussed women from several different perspectives.
Fish Creek district resident Marge Arnup acknowledged the traditional owners of South Gippsland, the Gunai/Kurnai and Boon Wurrung.
She described how IWD came to be, its importance across the planet and the significance of the three IWD colours, which originated from the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the United Kingdom in 1908.
Purple is for justice and dignity, green is for hope, and white represents purity, the latter of which is described as “a controversial concept” on the IWD website.
Jo McKenzie of Foster explained the histories and significant contributions of some of the notable women of the Corner Inlet district after researching their lives.
Jo left the audience with a sense of women’s progress, and of gratitude to those who have come before.
South Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Mohya Davies spoke of how well women support each other in the local community.
Mohya shared some advice provided by women from Prom Country Aged Care, such as “always take care of yourself first”.
Toora resident Louisa Vale’s presentation included some confronting statistics about inequality and bias and the fact that the cultural inequalities that intersect women’s life experiences cannot be ignored any longer.
Louisa shared personal examples of growing up in a family where everyone regardless of age and gender was considered to be of equal merit, and of raising boys and girls now.
She showed that even though people of today consider themselves educated and progressive; societal norms, stereotypes and bias do have impact on children and young people in the community, and that everyone needs to be aware of their own particular pre – or misconceptions.