Empowering women

CELEBRATING the achievements of local women was the focus of a breakfast forum in Sale on Thursday.

Hosted by Wellington Shire Council and Youth Council, the breakfast was held to celebrate International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day, which was on Tuesday, highlights the diversity, strength and the achievements of women, while calling for gender parity.

About 100 local residents of all ages packed into the Sale Memorial Hall supper room to toast the occasion. 

A panel of women addressed questions about their thoughts on achieving gender equality and experiences and challenges they had faced.

Panellists included Wellington Access Inclusion Advisory Group member Rose O’Neil, Sale Business and Tourism Association president Leeanne Pearce, Wellington Shire Councillor Carolyn Crossley and Rowville fire operations manager Emma Conway.

The panel was led by Gippsland Women’s Health chief executive Jodie Martin.

Ms Martin said the questions evoked a range of responses which challenged traditional perceptions of what it meant to be a man or woman.

The panellists spoke about the strength of women leaders in the community and the career paths women could explore.

“I wanted to get different perspectives from different women . . . about their thoughts on leadership and how we can encourage more women to take on these roles,” she said. 

“I thought it was a really great discussion.”

Ms Conway said women in prominent leadership roles were sometimes scrutinised for their appearance rather than their performance, pointing to the treatment of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

But she said this shouldn’t discourage women from pursuing their passions and dreams.

“We as women need to take responsibility for generating equality in the community,” she said.

Cr Crossley said it would take small steps, with events like yesterday, to achieve equality.

Wellington Youth Council mayor Kaitlin Woolford said she found the panel responses really inspirational.

“It was really great to see women up there talking about empowerment,” she said.

“I for one like being a leader in the community.” The sumptuous breakfast to finish the forum was provided by the Sale CWA branch.