Emergen's IWD Ebook

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A collec,on of blog posts from Emergen’s Blogging for a Cause day celebra,ng Interna,onal Women’s Day 2011

emergen activating emerging leaders

International Women’s Day - Let’s Get Revolutionary The Silent Heroines Equal Pay for International Women’s Day What does International Women’s Day mean to me? Bring the Fabulous to the Table WHEN YOU EDUCATE A GIRL



activating emerging leaders

welcome messages It’s been an exci9ng year for Emergen already -­‐ we have launched our new branding, changing our name from yGen to Emergen. We wanted to reflect our future direc9on of ac9va9ng young emerging leaders in the workplace and the community. We have also established our first state leadership team and we are now in the process of establishing two more! As part of our first leadership team, Janine Ripper has confidently led the blogging ini9a9ves on Emergen. She and her team have been able create one of the most ac9ve and suppor9ve blogging communi9es of young leaders in Australia. So my greatest thanks to Janine for puVng into ac9on all the ideas we’ve had! This ebook (hopefully the first of many!) is a representa9on of the talented young leaders across Australia. Let’s keep helping each other ac#vate our leadership for the benefit of others.

Alicia Cur6s Emergen Founder Emergen's inaugural Blogging for a Cause day came and went with a flurry of ac9vity, with a record number of posts being wri>en by an array of Emergen members -­‐ a combina9on of new and exis9ng bloggers -­‐ as a tribute to Interna9onal Women’s Day, held on March 8 2011. We at Emergen would like to thank everyone for par9cipa9ng -­‐ whether you wrote a post, commented, read a post, discussed, helped publicise or shared… as it takes many different ac9ons by many different people to make a difference. And I don't know about you, but I already feel so much more wiser and richer for it. Stay tuned for more Blogging for a Cause events on Emergen in 2011. This is only the beginning!

Janine Ripper Emergen Blogging Coordinator



contents When You Educate a Girl -­‐ Jenny Geale

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Keep Reaching and Acknowledging -­‐ Siobhan Pereira


Bring Fabulous to the table -­‐ Bridget Leslie

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The Silent Heroines -­‐ Daniel Mirabella

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Women + Shopping + Shoes = Natural Traders -­‐ Charmel Delos Santos

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Some9mes it pays to have balls -­‐ Amanda Joseph

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True Colours -­‐ Aaron Koo

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Interna9onal Women’s Day: Let’s get revolu9onary -­‐ Maria Davidenko

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Hand in Hand We Touch the World -­‐ Khadija AL-­‐Khaddour

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Virgin Blogger for Interna9onal Women’s Day -­‐ Sonia Cason

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Body Image Issues Start Young -­‐ Gary Ryan

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In the Grip of Fear -­‐ Janine Ripper

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Interna9onal Women’s Day Feature: Alicia Cur9s -­‐ Linda Le

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Suppor9ng Interna9onal Women’s Day -­‐ Sharad PaGnaik

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Equal Pay for IWD -­‐ Cara Templeman

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Reflec9ons on Interna9onal Women’s Day -­‐ Alicia Cur6s

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Woman -­‐ Marisa Wikramanayake

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What does Interna9onal Women’s Day mean to me? -­‐ Almetra Bethlehem

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Interna9onal Women’s Day -­‐ Isabel Taco



Room to Read is a global organization seeking to transform the lives of millions of children in the developing world by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education.

When You Educate a Girl When I arrived at the Room to Read office in Delhi on 6 December 2010 I 'knew' that Room to Read had four key programs - building schools, establishing libraries, publishing nooks in local languages and educating girls.

By Jenny Geale

It was there we met a group of girls who were part of the school-based GEP, where all girls at the school received the support they needed to learn, develop and establish themselves within the community.

Sitting cross-legged around the outside of the classroom, we looked expectantly at the grid chalked onto the floor. In each of the ten squares was written a question - in English and in Hindi. What I didn't know was that each of these As I strained to see them, I noticed questions programs was so much more complex and ranging from "Name two sources of vitamin A", customised to suit the local environment than the "What are two changes that happen to the body simple categorisation had led me to believe. Much during adolescence?" to "what are two of your less did I expect that 24 hours later I would be areas of weakness?" tearfully watching a group of bold young Indian girls play a simple 'game' that powerfully demonstrated the richness and impact of the fourth program - the Girls' Education Program (GEP). I was on the Chapter Leader Trek to India, joining a dozen other Room to Read leaders from around the world in visiting a range of Room to Read projects in the north-western Indian state of Rajasthan. Five days, countless stories and experiences later, it was sitting in a schoolroom in the village of Kakalwada that provided an amazing insight into the power of educating girls.



Founded on the belief that World Change Starts with Educated Children, Room to Read works in collaboration with local communities, partner organisations and governments to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children and to ensure girls have the skills and support needed to complete their secondary education.

A 'pass the parcel' activity determined who had to answer one of the ‘life skills’ questions. If you were left holding the marker when the drumming stopped, you had to get up, stand with your back to the grid, and toss the marker over your head. Wherever it landed - that was your question. It was at this point, barely 30 minutes into the visit, that I had all of my expectations shattered and hope sustained. One by one, girls stood and boldly, confidently and clearly answered each question. I held my breath as one girl, wearing a black cardigan and yellow scarf (rather than the blue uniform of the other girls), calmly outlined three dangers of child marriage. It was only later that I would find out that she, at fourteen years old, had been married for two years. It was then that I realised that any change in the role and status of women in this community was to be twofold.

“It was at this point, barely 30 minutes into the visit, that I had all of my expectations shattered and hope sustained.” question that without the training and support they had been receiving, those young women would have been able to so clearly articulate answers to questions that would have had a bunch of Australian girls in fits of giggles (all the while with eight strangers and several male teachers in the room, and half their village peering in the windows). But what about their community? Was there really going to be any change in the perception of the role and status of these young girls?

“Was there really going to be any change in the perception of the role and status of these young girls?” On the one hand, it is too early to say. Room to Read has been working with Alarippu in this community for just four years. However a few things confirmed that Room to Read is doing more than just telling the girls they have rights:

• The topics in which they are educating the girls do empower them.

We were part way there. Alarippu - the Non Government Organisation (NGO) partner facilitating the life skills training - was obviously doing an amazing job; it seemed out of the

No matter what restrictions are placed on them from a cultural point of view, they can make better choices about food for their families, understand what is happening to their bodies during puberty, and have the confidence to discuss these changes and seek support. The state of their health, bodies and minds becomes much more of their own making than they may ever have perceived possible.



“It’s a constant battle, fighting some of the most complex and entrenched institutions and cultural norms. But by adapting and working closely with these communities, I do firmly believe that we can create lasting, system change through educating girls.” • The entire community seems to be engaged It felt like the whole village turned out to greet us - drumming, dancing and welcoming us. They see the value in the work Room to Read are doing, such as how the established reading room is a community space not just for use by students. Despite that in this same village a group of primary school girls told us that their favorite past-times were ‘cooking’, ‘sweeping the porch’, ‘fetching water’, and ‘making chapatti’, there is a sense that the impact is being felt far beyond the students themselves. I will never forget the mother who told us how she and the other mothers were impressed that “outsiders” could care so much for their children - that they were going to do everything they could to support their daughters (by this stage there was not a dry eye in the house).

As well as working with a partner NGO who knows the local community, they engage "Social Mobilisers" - young women from the local community who know the girls, their families and the challenges they face and who can provide the girls with support. They work closely with the community to ensure the girls are able to stay in school. The young girl who was already married being a perfect example. Traditionally she would have been withdrawn from school, but she, along with two others in that class who were married at a similar age, were still in school. That, at the very least, is a huge success in a remote, traditional village.

The social mobilisers help to ensure that whatever work is being done by Room to Read and NGO’s like Alarippu can be successful by embedding it in the community. It is a constant battle, fighting some of the most complex and Finally, Room to Read understands that their work entrenched institutions and cultural norms, but in the community needs to be viewed holistically. by adapting and working closely with these communities, I do firmly believe that we can create lasting, systemic change through the education of girls.

Since 2000, Room to Read has impacted the lives of more than four million children in Asia and Africa and aims to reach 10 million children by 2015.

Learn more at: www.roomtoread.org About Jenny Geale Jenny has a passion for helping others have an impact on the world. After spending two years as a strategy consultant with a top-tier firm, she decided to follow her passion for social change and now devotes her time to the non-profit sector. Jenny leads the Brisbane Room to Read Chapter, which has a network of over 300 local supporters and several large initiatives underway for 2011. She is focused full-time on the Chapter and in furthering the outcomes of a research project conducted with Volunteering Queensland, Youth Leading Youth. Jenny is currently completing a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and a Master of Development Practice at UQ. When not immersed in the world of not-for-profits, Jenny is usually trying to improve her mountain bike skills or read a good book. For more from Jenny, check out her blog: jennygeale.wordpress.com



Keep Reaching and Acknowledging

By Siobhan Pereira

When I think of women, the first words that come to mind are strength and drive...You should never underestimate the strength of a woman. I actually didn’t completely understand this until I witnessed my own strength, and some days I still amaze myself. Am I being vain? Think again...for It’s because she wants her daughter to be able to unless we start acknowledging ourselves as the go to school and have more of an education than strong, individual women we are, who will? she was given the chance of. She wants her “...unless we start acknowledging daughter to finish high school, go to university and ourselves as the strong, individual women get a job. Her drive inspires me and makes me reassess what motivates me. we are, who will?” I recently moved back to India where it is the norm to have a helper (I prefer ‘helper’ to ‘maid’ as that is what the value of the work done boils down to help in maintaining ones home and lifestyle. I find the term ‘maid’ derogatory and archaic). The young lady who helps me is not much older than me. She is a mother, a wife and also helps to maintain others houses like mine. She is also handicapped her left arm deformed and virtually unusable. With her one hand she sweeps and mops the floors, and washes the dishes and clothes. Just imagine doing all of that with just one hand. I mean, I know what a diva I can be when having to do chores with the flu, or heaven forbid a paper cut! Watching her deftly go about her work mesmerises me. Why is she doing this? Why doesn’t she rely on her husband to be the sole bread winner of the house, or live off state benefits?

I asked her if I could write about her and use a picture of her and her beautiful daughter. She requested being left anonymous but was touched by the fact that I was inspired by her and how she lets nothing stop her from achieving her goal of educating her daughter. The point of sharing her story is to remind you to not let anything get in the way of your goal.

“The point of sharing this story is to remind you to not let anything get in the way of your goal.” I will leave you with one request: Give your wife, sister, girlfriend, friend, colleague, boss - any woman you know, a pat on the back or a hug for the strength she displays constantly. Better still - give her a hug for just being her.

About Siobhan Pereira Siobhan is passionate about women’s rights and their position in society. Originally from India, she has witnessed the differing status of women in the developed and developing world. A marketing and sustainability consultant by trade, Siobhan loves getting her creative juices flowing by dabbling in handmade crafts. If Siobhan is not pulling glue off her fingers, she is reading, cooking and exploring other cultures through their cuisine.



Bring Fabulous to the Table What a poet Adam became when he met Eve “Bone of my bone. Flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman.” This symbol of womanhood was celebrated since she arrived. If we are to bring Fabulous to the table then femininity will have to be wrapped around it. Fabulous. The feminine flair to the flavor of life. The one who was born with the courage to nurture even where the threat of heart-break exists. She dances to the tune of romance. She mesmerises and draws close the hearts of many. Her love guards what is given to her to protect. She does not bow out of her own performances but dares to try again. She understands that perseverance will push her through obstacles and she will succeed. Her winters don’t last forever. They are merely seasons that allow her to cocoon herself whilst she transitions into a more powerful being. She attributes morality and dignity to her nations and teaches her people about the value of humanity.

By Bridgett Leslie

that the man is still a part of the equation for she knows what strength and wisdom he comes to the table with. Her tears are heard and her cry becomes the catalyst for change where disaster exists. Fabulous. The hand of the feminine heart extends beyond boundaries, culture & countries to love the orphaned child. She holds the abandoned close to. She fixes communities torn down by war and poverty by bringing together the man and child and working peace into her home. She works with the man to sow and reap the land’s harvest. She strengthens her hands through her labors of love. Her imagination brings wealth into her hands because she dares to dream and then acts upon those dreams. She is not afraid of hard work. She teaches her students of life all about discipline and hard work.

Fabulous. The walk of the feminine heart is toward wholeness. She is not afraid of her own sexuality nor does she shy away from it. She looks at her human personality with its strengths and weaknesses and still she flourishes. She extracts the lessons learned from her relationships in family, romance and business, and she looks forward with wisdom to new ones. She walks in her own fashion, regardless of what others define fashion as. Her fashion brings out Fabulous. The heart of the feminine soul that her unique personality with colours that suit her embraces another. She's the heart of the helper best. She has learnt to be comfortable with who who will come alongside you naturally. She is the she is: fulfillment of the African Proverb ‘If you want to educate a nation, educate a woman’. Her heart draws the potential in another. The rare qualities that are often hidden behind a mask of inferiorities. She does not withdraw from another feminine heart for she understands the power of togetherness. She is wise enough to make sure

She is Fabulous. She is you.

Bring YOU to the table.

About Bridgett Leslie Bridgett is a finance professional who lives in Sydney, Australia and who is an avid writer and supporter of humanitarian causes for women and children.



“With great vision she mobilized her community to understand the importance of gender equality...”

The Silent Heroines

By Daniel Mirabella

The most inspirational woman and heroine in my life is the Honorable Kyatuheire Jacqueline, a Ugandan member of Parliament and Founder of St. Teresa Girls' College. With great vision she mobilized her community to understand the importance of gender equality, and leading by example she sacrificed a large portion of her income as well as taking loans from banks, using this money to lay the foundation for an all girls’ college. The school started with just 41 girls (known as the pioneers) back in 2007. Now, 4 years on, the results have just been released with St. Teresa College placed 180th out of 2,551 schools Nationwide, and 1st within the District. This is an extraordinary achievement by a school not even half constructed.

There are many humble Heroines out there like Jacqueline, and this is dedicated to their unrecognized deeds. The girls’ from St. Teresa would like to wish you all a special International Women’s Day! Find more on Jacqueline’s story at: http://www.hopeuganda.org.au/about-theproject/key-personnel/kyatuheire-jacqueline/

About Daniel Mirabella Daniel founded HOPE Uganda after a life changing experience from two month’s solitary travel throughout Uganda, East Africa. He is now undertaking full time studies at Murdoch University, completing a double degree in Law and Arts (Politics & International Studies). Daniel also has a keen passion for issues that surround global suffering and injustice, with a particular interest in corruption, democratic governance and human rights. Daniel was accepted into an International Human Rights Law Program in July 2010, where he undertook study in humanitarian and human rights law in Geneva, Switzerland. “I believe we ought to be citizens of the world. As a citizen of Australia I have rights and obligations. As global citizens I also believe we have rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and obligations to promote and defend these rights on behalf of others in vulnerable circumstances.”



Women + Shopping + Shoes = Natural Traders By Charmel Delos Santos

“Considering women shop a lot, I believe that we would make natural traders - we just don’t realise it.”

In every Trading workshop I go to, I count how many women are in the class, with women usually making up 10%. Why? Like it’s hard! When other women see me checking stock quotes on my phone in my playgroup and in my favourite cafe, many become interested in seeing how it enables me to earn an income while doing ‘what mums do’ (bring kids to school, play at the park) and want to learn about Trading. And why not? Trading is simply Buying and Selling, and my belief is that women do a lot of this.

Shopping In a woman’s world this is called ‘shopping’. I admit, the main activity is BUYING, and is intended for keeps – but we do also sell, or otherwise get rid of things that have less or no value. And considering women shop a lot, I believe that we would make natural traders - we just don’t realise it. In fact this could be you!

Trend Following You like to buy what is in fashion. Blue that is so last year! You only go for what is in the new style - what is with the trend. In Trading this is called ‘Trend Following’, or one who follows a Seasonal concept in which weather patterns (a prevailing trend) dictate what will have a high demand, with prices sure to move up (or down).

Band Trading You buy what is not in season because you know it will be back. In Trading this is called ‘Contrarian’, or to a certain extent ‘Band Trading’ (like rubber band – stretch and go back)


You buy when you see a “window of opportunity” or loophole. In shopping terms these Value Trading opportunities are called “Sales” – in Trading this is You search high and low, visiting several shops or called ‘Arbitrage’. shopping centers, looking for an item selling “There are many concepts that work in below value. Considering the whole scheme of both Trading and Shopping that women things, you want the item and you find it selling at do, and do well.” a steal. You’re a Bargain Hunter. In Trading this is called ‘Value Trading’. You see, there are many concepts that work in both Trading and Shopping that women do, and do well.



We buy and wear according to the conditions

Shoes The other way that should help to explain Trading is this - it is like shopping for shoes. Yes - Shoes!

We know what we are after “I really need strappy sandals for a wedding”. This is the same as in Trading - you start by having an objective. Say you want to “consistently achieve 3% of capital per month (total of 36% per year!)”. If you don’t know what you want and where you want to go, YOU CAN’T GET IT. RIGHT!

In winter we usually wear closed shoes to keep warm and in summer, sandals to keep cool. In Trading, you have to have an idea of what the market is doing - are people optimistic and buying things in the hope of rising prices (Bull Market) or are they scared and dumping their assets before the prices go down (Bear Market)? Or are people not sure where things are going? Is there a tug of war between the people who are optimistic and those who aren’t (Sideways market). You need to determine the market condition before deciding on the action, strategy, or in choosing not to trade when the market is too choppy.

Trading is like shopping for shoes:

We buy what is a good fit You wouldn’t buy shoes in a smaller size - similar to Trading - if a trade does not feel right, but you went ahead anyway, this tends to be a loser. So Trade is what fits you and your timeframe - trade only the stock /industry you know.

• • • • •

we we we we we

know what we are after, buy what is a good fit, buy a lot, buy and wear according to conditions, buy it when we look and feel good.

We buy a lot!

We buy it when we look and feel good

Formal shoes, running shoes, many styles of sandals, boots, different colors and material. We have to have a range of shoe options. The point is that you have got to budget for all kinds of “shoe situations” and you shouldn’t spend too much on one shoe. The important lesson in Trading is that you have to keep how much you risk at an amount that does not blow out your budget in order to be able to fund next opportunities.

Easy when deciding on shoes, but this was a surprise for me as it also applies to Trading. No matter how much the trade looks positive from your analysis, you may not feel good about it (or may be afraid) that it won’t turn out right. Worrying could make you cut short a profitable run, which is the worst you could do in profittaking. So before opening a trade, you need to feel good about it. If not, don’t trade it!

About Charmel Delos Santos: Charmel is a Trader Mom and Systems Analyst by profession. She lives in Sydney with her husband and 3 young children. Charmel started investing in real estate and has been trading since 2001, but only had consistent success when trading as a Mom in the last 3 years. Charmel blogs about her experiences in Trading to help other women who are interested in learning about Trading as well as to help herself retain all that she has learnt: http:// highheeledtraders.com



Sometimes it Pays to have Balls International Women's Day is a time to remember our foremothers who fought to give us the rights we have today. It's a day to remember the women who fought for the freedom to wear what we want, decide who we want in government, be more than a daughter, a wife, a mother. They fought hard, despite being ostracised for their beliefs. Their fight lifted us to where we are now. Think about it. Just over 100 years ago, still short enough ago to be a vague memory for our oldest WWI veteran, women were not allowed to vote. We now have a female Prime Minister in Australia. And despite these advancements, I am forced to question just how far we have come from the days when women were expected to stay at home and look after the children. What exactly happened to the feminist movement that revolutionised Western culture as we know it?

By Amanda Joseph

So on this day, when we remember the sacrifices everyday women took to give us the ability to vote for who we want, to work where we want, to be whatever we want, we, both men and women, should take up arms once again and fight for what should rightfully be ours:

Equal pay for equal work. No more. No less.

After all, women still earn an average of 16.5 percent less than their male counterparts in the work place, and in Western Australia this jumps to a staggering 25.5 percent. Yet modern women shy away from the "feminist" badge like the plague for fear of being deemed "difficult" or a "man-hater". This leaves very few voices shouting for equality, voices that very easily become drowned out in the crowd.

About Amanda Joseph: Amanda is a screenwriter, philosopher at heart, environmentalist and globe-trotter. She is currently undertaking a Master of Science in Sustainability Management and juggling full time work as an Environment Officer, as well as well as branching out into the film industry. For more on Amanda, check out her blog at: confessionsofagreenqueen.blogspot.com



“We do not realise how advertising and marketing can have such a strong impact on female self esteem.”

True Colours By Aaron Koo

About Aaron Koo

Over the years I can't help but notice that many females (especially of the younger generation) never seem to be happy with the way they look. They're either too fat or too skinny, and there's always a problem one way or another, while some go to the extreme of developing eating disorders. This is possibly because we are constantly bombarded with images from the media on what women "should look like." These pictures are altered and presented in a way that even the women in these photos do not look like themselves. We do not realise how advertising and marketing can have such a strong impact on female self esteem. It is something that I think is very crucial.

Aaron is a budding entrepreneur with a mission to encourage youth entrepreneurship. Aaron experiments with different business models and ideas in order to develop low capital but profitable businesses to enable a higher quality in life. Aaron embraces the motto "stay hungry and stay foolish" by Steve Jobs, and is always looking

This may sound overly simple, but I think there are a couple of things we can do to combat this: • Women - look at yourself in the mirror and compliment on something you admire about yourself. • Men - genuinely compliment a female friend, colleague, partner or family member on how beautiful they truly are.



International Women’s Day Lets get Revolutionary! By Maria Davidenko

As we all know, an event that we celebrate every year on March 8 was born in 1911 by the name International Women's Day or IWD. Mother-founders of a women's movement stood up for their own interests as true believers that they were masters of their own lives. At that time they were white middle-class women who found courage and strength to stand up for their own interests. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was not common for them to speak about what they wanted and what they thought their rights should be in the face of men. Their otherness stemmed from their femaleness (i.e. female bodies) and proved a formidable barrier to the movement. Paradoxically, their otherness within the group labeled “white middle-class women”, e.g. their age, sexuality, inability or choice not to become a mother, etc, enriched their life experiences and enabled them to go beyond social labels. Thanks to these women, who were both held back and made strong because of their gender, the fight for gender equality has progressed to where it is today. However, the stronghold of gender stereotypes – and what it means to be female – still impacts negatively on women. How can I be a woman if its gendered definition does not suit me at all? Like being born in October under the sign of Libra I may read an astrological characteristic of “me” (or any Libra) and think to myself, well, it's either astrology (or astrologists) that is wrong or someone made a mistake as I was born in October, but that's not me! That is how those “women” who started fighting for their rights (at first to vote) might have felt. Their growing dissatisfaction with such an unfair situation broke out in organized protests against inequality in their rights with men. I am so happy that they felt like that and that they managed to come together and push for what they thought was right! That is what is commemorated on March 8. I have hope that the example of women

who 100 years ago found the strength to rise against a gender-based oppression can encourage

“How can I be simply a woman if its gendered definition does not suit me at all?” women of our generation to contribute their energy and creativity into the active negotiation (or peaceful protest) of possibilities to resolve issues that woman encounter in their daily lives due to their woman-ness. It might sound a bit socialist, revolutionary, feminist and...outdated, but that is not the way some of us see it today. Sometimes, it seems that no progress has been made over the past 100 years, but let us not be pessimistic and skeptical on this matter. The growth of a type of social activism that became more visible, transparent and accessible in the age of the internet to millions of the world's population also highlights that, on one hand, gender equity still exists but, on the other hand, a hundred-year-old example of a courageous women's 'No' to inequality is not a socialist utopia. Another significant event that brought into focus specific issues experienced by individuals of

female gender was the UN First World Conference on Women in Mexico City, 1975. A year later, as an outcome of the conference, the UN established a Voluntary Fund for the UN Decade for Women, known to many as UNIFEM (recently renamed UN Women). In spite of criticism and skepticism regarding the efficacy of the UN's projects, it would not be fair to downplay the value of aid that it provides to people affected by natural disasters, wars, dictatorial regimes, poverty and gender



inequality. The credit for an acknowledgment by the UN of the necessity to address girls' and women's needs specifically in separation from needs of other community members, as I believe, can be given to feminists or those who were inspired by the example of women who took on the street to demand their right to vote in the beginning of the last century.

Today, it is prestigious among talented and passionate young people to volunteer or do internships for the UN or UN Women and similar organizations. Accidentally, I had a chance to get my bit of experience when I was accepted into an internship program run by the UN Information Center in Tokyo. Coming from Russia, where neither the UN nor volunteering was a concept of that much interest to young people who I came across at school, university and work, I experienced a sort of cultural shock when I arrived in Melbourne. They taught subjects such as Gender and Development, Contemporary Feminist Thought and alike, and students actually attended, do the readings and voluntarily participate in discussions! At first I didn’t even tell my parents what I was studying as I was convinced they would think I was wasting my time and money, when I could be married, having babies or getting a proper job. I got interested in the work done by the UN through the internship with its Information Center in Tokyo. That interest spread into feminist writings, gender studies, and eventually led to me starting a Master's thesis on the construction of a woman's gender identity through her care for body and appearance. Just before my Master's candidature started, a friend invited me to a meeting of a group of young ladies passionate about the promotion of gender equity. They called themselves Young UNIFEM. I went to the meeting and stayed. It was inspirational! It felt like the room was filled with a concentrate of young women's intellect and drive for social change, and there was no place for indifference. I am proud of being part of this collective. When I am there I feel like it is not abnormal to want to talk about the imbalance in rights of individuals of different genders.

In January 2011 we became Young UN Women, which does not change our values and wishes for a better world where to be a girl or woman is not to be the “other”. We are joining UN Women to celebrate the 100th anniversary of IDW this March. In collaboration with girls' schools and the QV Women’s Center we are organising an art exhibition where our wishes for future generations of girls and women meets our creativity. I wish for every girl and woman to be at ease with herself and her body. But that is a tiny part of what I wish for girls and women and what I believe can be achieved through coming together and thinking and talking and speaking up. That is what celebrating IWD is about, isn’t it? It’s about acknowledging the achievements of the women's movement in the past, about being empowered and energised by their example and about wishing the best for women in the future.

About Maria Davidenko, Women Australia



Maria was born in Moscow, Russia in 1984 and graduated from University with a BA in African and Oriental Studies, majoring in Japanese. Maria worked as an intern at the UN Information Center in Tokyo in 2008. It was there she read her first “gender” book ‘Am I Thin Enough Yet? The Cult of Thinness and the Commercialization of Identity’ by Sharlene Hesse-Biber. The book opened her eyes to the problem of women starving themselves in developed countries. Maria participated in a campaign to promote the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, where the materials she was translating and discussing regarding women and children suffering from malnutrition in developing nations contradicted what she had learnt in ‘Am I Thin Enough Yet?’ Maria found that she had put on “gender lenses” and could not take them off. Maria moved to Melbourne in 2009 and went straight into doing a GradDip in Sociology planning to major in Gender, Sexuality and Diversity (GSD). In February 2010, Maria joined Young UNIFEM which is now Young UN Women (YUNW).



Hand in Hand We Touch the World By Khadija AL-Kaddour

“A woman that looks after the next generation, in whatever capacity or approach, understanding her purpose, strengths, and goals, is truly a remarkable leader.”

The woman who survives intact and happy must be at once tender and tough. She must have convinced herself, or be in the unending process of convincing herself that she, her values and her choices are important - Maya Angelou.

and community. To the women who I know and who have touched my life, who have inspired me or helped me - your advice, your achievements, your drive, in whatever form, I hope that you will never be discouraged in being your true, unique self.

To educate a woman is to educate a family. A woman that looks after the next generation, in whatever capacity or approach, understanding her I hope that every woman can find the inner purpose, strengths, and goals, is truly a strength to reach their goals, the support to not remarkable leader. She has insight in herself and walk alone and the opportunities to achieve and passes this on to whoever she associates with. see their brilliance. I say to every woman, mother To every woman that battles away in the home, in or not, that you can impact the next generation of the work place, or in life in general, being truthful girls and boys to have positive images of to themselves and upholding good values, I hope themselves, to affect our culture, and to protect and know that every day you give an honorable and nurture the emotional lives of countless girls standing, a life worth lived. I hope and pray that and boys so they grow up to be woman and man, we can, and will, live in a world where no woman hand in hand, with integrity, mutual respect and lives with violence, that she will be respected for kindness towards each other. her mind, and her body is honorable, and not As a seventh generation Australian Muslim woman exploited or touched without her consent. and a Mother of three beautiful boys, I have The woman leaders of tomorrow are being gratitude and feel honored to have many nurtured today, and can you have a huge impact beautiful, kind women in my life. To my single on someone, somewhere. Never underestimate Mother, who lives a life of upholding justice and your contribution to the lives you touch. one that services the under privilege. To my Sisters, in their varying characters, who give their “Any effort is never wasted, because together, hand in hand we can change the world by best. To my friends, who always commit to the believing in ourselves.” greater good of building stronger, healthy families

About Khadija AL-Kaddour: Khadija is a seventh generation Australian Muslim Woman and mother to three beautiful boys. Khadija is currently studying a Bachelor in Social Science, majoring in Family and Children Studies, and is passionate about her faith, Islam and positive parenting - as parents are the first mentors that affect and nurture a child. It is important to Khadija that we live in a society that nurtures tomorrows leaders by safe guarding their emotional, physical and physiological needs, and one that accepts diversity. Khadija has completed a some self-development workshops in the past year and enjoys embracing new challenges.



Virgin Blogger For International Women’s Day By Sonia Cason

No, I am not promoting the Virgin brand, even though I am a big advocate of it. I have quite simply never blogged before. I am borderline Gen X / Y, so I may be getting on board a bit late, but better late than never! While I applaud International Women’s Day, I know we have a long way to go in terms of equal pay and glass ceilings in the corporate sector, and I feel we need to think about each other more than once per year.

middle management, group together with other female middle managers for a common cause and take on the senior male managers. Women simply need to back each other up and not put each other down if they are ever going to succeed - a woman can be another woman’s worst enemy. Let women be other women’s best friends!

I feel that women can be other women’s worst enemies, so instead of focusing on women today, as there is a specially named day for it, perhaps we can treat each other with a little more respect EVERY day. You may be wondering what I am going on about? Well, you don't see men bitching around the water cooler about what a particular woman is wearing, or about something they may have said in error. When a man gets a large promotion, all the other guys slap him on the back, but when a woman gets a promotion you often hear other women saying that "she must've slept with the boss". I'm tarring everyone here with the same brush in order to make a point. If women were more supportive of other women in the work place on a daily basis, maybe we would see real ‘girl power’, with more women reaching the top. If all women united to help their fellow women, maybe we would stand a chance of rising to the top of the pack. Unfortunately there are too many women who bring their comrades down with nasty words and rumors. Yes - we all need to let off steam, but if every woman clubbed together, surely we could climb to the top of the pile? Don't forget that us women can more often than not be our own worst enemies. Praise, assist, and help your women colleagues and friends succeed for the good of them, the good of you, the good of all of us in the long run. If you're a senior woman, then mentor younger women. If you're in

“We have a long way to go in terms of equal pay, and glass ceilings in the corporate sector.” About Sonia Cason Originally from England, Sonia arrived in Australia in 2005 and has recently moved to Perth. Sonia has a degree in Business Information Systems, and her career to date has been in the financial sector, although she is currently looking for a change. Sonia loves traveling, and has a variety of hobbies as she has a passion for trying anything new. Sonia’s latest "try anything once" experience was trapeze, which is something she definitely has to do again.



Body Image Issues Start Young By Gary Ryan

My one and only daughter turns 9 years old next month. Up until six weeks ago she had never said anything about her body. Then, one night, after having been at one of my sister's houses where we had been swimming for the day, she was in tears. "What's bothering you?" my wife, Michelle asked. "I'm fat!" my daughter exclaimed. Michelle had to catch her breath. This statement had seemingly come out of nowhere. "No you're not. You're just right for you. Why are you saying this suddenly?" "Today my cousin Jody (not her real name) asked me if I was embarrassed to be wearing my swimsuit. I didn't know what she meant. I hadn't even thought about it before. Then she pointed at my belly and asked me again if I minded wearing my swimsuit. It was obvious what she meant. She thinks I'm fat." "I understand that you feel sad, but you don't actually know what Jody thinks. Is it possible you’re jumping to a conclusion?"

“It was like witnessing a moment when a part of a child's innocence is taken away”.

My daughter has a strong build - she can do proper push ups and likes to time herself doing handstands. Her strong body shape is partly due to some medical treatment she undertook when she was born. She had a fast growing haemangioma at the junction of her right eye and nose immediately after birth. Following medical advice to ensure she didn't lose her eyesight, we placed her on a 'radical' treatment involving steroids to stop the growth. It worked, but there were side effects for her skin and her build. Our daughter is an active dancer and she plays competitive hockey. She is also in the aerobics team at school and to our delight, is very good at 'giving things a go'. In our eyes (and the eyes of many) she is beautiful. But at the moment she is struggling to see that. Michelle and I don't want to overreact to her current mindset, but we also don't want to ignore the seeds of a potential lifelong challenge with body image. I share this story because there is still an enormous amount of pressure on women to 'look good'. I assume that many will have had similar challenges when growing up. As a parent and father I'm all ears regarding any lessons or words of wisdom that you may have to share.

About Gary Ryan The conversation went on. When Michelle relayed this story to me my heart sank. It was like witnessing a moment when a part of a child's innocence is taken away. You see my daughter's cousin is very, very slim. A year older than my daughter too. She, like the other girls in our broader family is beautiful, and as far as I'm concerned she was just a 10 year old girl making a comment. And it is amazing how my daughter has latched on to that innocent comment.

Gary is the founder of Organisations that Matter, working with senior and developing leaders to help them master the people practices that really matter for high performance. Gary has worked with over 9,000 young professionals since the mid 1990s and in July 2010 released his first book, What Really Matters For Young Professionals! How to master 15 practices to accelerate your career. Married with five children (yes, you read correctly!) Gary is also in training for his 11th marathon.



In The Grip of Fear

By Janine Ripper

She sleeps peacefully, only stirring when the dog barks at the neighborhood cats that continuously taunt it. Domestic Violence in Australia The statistics on domestic and family violence in Australia are confronting, with recent reports showing that one in three women are physically assaulted in their lifetime, and 42 per cent of homicides are a result of domestic and family violence (National Plan puts focus on domestic violence). On top of that, a new national report analysing the economic impact of domestic violence in Australia has estimated the financial cost of domestic violence at around $13.6 billion.

Fear. That is all she feels now. Fear for her brother. Please let him stay asleep. Fear for the dog. Please let it stay out of the way.

This is in addition to the psychological, physical, behavioural and social impacts that domestic violence has on the effected parties for years to come. Thud. She stirs as she senses that something is wrong. Thud. Her slumber is broken by a sound coming from the other room. Thud. There is a sudden shatter of glass, and the yelling begins. She is jolted awake, thoughts shooting immediately to her younger brother in the other room, and whether he had been woken - or if he had somehow managed to cling to sleep. She pulls her sheets up around her ears in a hopeless attempt to block out the noise. The yelling is now dominated by the loud, booming tones of a man’s voice, accompanied by the seemingly endless thudding.

Fear for her mother - who hopefully wont get hurt badly this time. Fear for herself. She wants so badly to do something to stop it, but she can’t, as the fear has pinned her to her bed and she is only 7 - what can she do? And fear of the father, whom she loves so much, but whom she is also so utterly afraid of. It will be the fear that she will carry with her for the rest of her life, as will her brother, and her mother. Her father will harbour a different type of fear - the fear of what he is capable of, and of not being able to stop himself.

About Janine Ripper Janine graduated from Murdoch University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies majoring in Film and Media, and has spent the last few years working in Project Management, the highlight being winning a prominent award for excellence in Project Management in 2009. Janine is an avid traveller, and has rediscovered her passion for writing via blogging in the last year, which has led to her taking up the National Blogging Coordinator role for Emergen.



International Women’s Day Feature: Alicia Curtis By Linda Le I cannot find anyone more fitting to feature on the Emergen International Women’s Day blogging drive than its very own creator. Here we have a driven and inspirational woman who started to firmly imprint her footprints into the world at a very young age.

“Alicia’s commitment to serving others and her compassion for the world around us has inspired many and we will foresee the ripple effect that she has created in the years to come.” Linda Le

Having started and been involved in a number of initiatives such as Millennium Kids; a development program for business and professional women; and the community, Emergen, she maintains her very humble stance and forgets to mention her State President role in the National Speakers Association Australia and the Young Women's Leadership Program that she created and coordinated for a group of amazing young women. Her commitment to serving others and her compassion for the world around us has inspired many and we will foresee the ripple effect that she has created in the years to come. It is an honor to introduce to you Alicia Curtis.

Tell me about yourself I was born and bred in Perth, but love to travel. I’ve run my own business since I was 18, speaking and training groups about the impact that everyone can make in their community (and simultaneously develop your own leadership skills!). Over the years I’ve volunteered for a number of causes, first of which was setting up the Kids Helping Kids conferences when I was a teenager. These conferences turned into the organization, Millennium Kids, which I’m still proud to be involved with today. For the last five years I’ve also been actively involved with Business and Professional Women, working with young women in business, advocating for women’s issues and networking

internationally. I wrote a development program called Keys to Achievement, which is now being implemented in many countries around the world. What’s most important to me are my friends and family, my ability to contribute my leadership and creativity in the community, my health and wellbeing and having compassion for our environment, animals and people.

What is the project you are most passionate about right at the moment? Emergen is probably the project I’m most passionate about right at the moment! It started a couple of years ago and has just grown and developed into this awesome community of amazing young leaders. It’s really exciting to see community members get involved and adding their talents and skills to the community like you Linda with the featured member interviews, Janine with the Blogging for a Cause initiatives, Ally with the competitions and I could just keep going! We need more young leaders to step up and help make this community great for all!

What's your favorite book and why? I have lots of favorites! Anita Roddick’s Business as Unusual was the first book that inspired me about using business as a tool for social change. At the moment I’m reading ‘The How of Happiness’ by Sonja Lyubomirsky. It’s a fantastic and inspiring book about the academic research



on happiness. It makes you think about what you are actively doing to make yourself happy in life. I’ve also been inspired by ‘Half the Sky’ by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, which is about the discrimination against women that is rampant across the world. It’s still a huge issue that needs to be addressed in our world.

What are your special hobbies and interests? I like keeping fit so I’m often running or dancing. Lately I’ve being trying to stretch my health and fitness so I’ve been trying pilates which has been great. I’m always looking for my next fun fitness challenge! I also love drama and the theatre so I like to take a drama or improv course occasionally and see as much theatre as I can. I used to act a lot and I suppose if I hadn’t gone into my business I probably would have given acting/directing a go! I ended up teaching drama to primary school students for a couple of years while building my speaking/training business. Lastly, I love cooking so you can always find me making a fresh batch of pasta or pizza from scratch. I love cooking healthy foods that taste good. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 12 years old, so my specialty is great vegetarian food! I would love to start my own food blog one day.

What are your aspirations over the next 1-5 years? And how will you get there? One of my biggest aspirations at the moment is to build the Emergen community. There is so much potential for Emergen to grow into a collaborative community where young leaders contribute their talents to help each other grow and succeed. We are only going to achieve this by pooling our strengths and working together to build the projects and activities that we want. We’ve already got a team in Perth that are starting to work together on projects, and we are ready to start building teams in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Based on your learning experience so far, what one piece of advice would you give to other Emergen members? My advice is simple - discover what your strengths are and contribute that to the world. I believe everyone is amazing at something and sometimes we need a little help with determining what that is! Once you’ve discovered what your strengths are, it’s time to share that with the world through your work, business, leisure or volunteering.

“What’s your uniqueness and how are you sharing it with others?” About Linda Lee Linda graduated from Curtin University with a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Honours in Public Health. During university, Linda participated in the John Curtin Leadership Academy and is now an active member on the Alumni Council. Linda’s background is in public health focusing on the prevention of alcohol, drugs, tobacco control and preventative health. She has helped develop a state wide program which was effective in training, mentoring and coaching Rotarians across WA to become Champions within their own clubs to implement a healthy lifestyle initiative. Linda runs her own business aiming to help organisations achieve a more productive and profitable workforce through providing strategies in bridging the intergenerational gap. Her passion lies in the creation of inspirational leaders that are able to motivate, engage and develop young employees to maximise their potential.



Supporting International Women’s Day By Sharad Pattnaik

This is a challenging task, writing a post for International Women’s Day. Firstly because I have never written a blog post. Secondly - quite often than not, at least one of your mates, if not yourself, whinges about how complicated life is thanks to a woman.

system where women can enjoy full freedom to express.

It is easy to see that societies that protect women and create an environment for them to grow, nourish and nurture are some of the most affluent societies. They are the societies where there is much peace, love and happiness. Societies that are the fastest developing are the ones who have changed their strategy as a nation to focus on helping women find their That aside, it’s 2011 and much of the voice and focussing on the welfare of women. It progressive world has laws protecting the rights works both ways, because when focussing on of women. Yet celebrating this day is just as the welfare of women, men automatically get relevant today as it has ever been because we looked after, thus creating a more complete social well-being. still have far too many young girls who suffer from discrimination, even within their own It has often been said “when you educate a man, family. Because we still have far too many you educate a person; when you educate a episodes of domestic violence. Because there are woman, you educate an entire family”. This is still far too many women who do not believe not just true for education, but for almost they can enjoy complete freedom in their everything else. On the contrary, societies workforce or society. Because there are still experiencing poverty, pain, lack of love, disease cases of female infanticide, sex trading and and just general evil-ness are the ones who have other crimes against women occurring in this often failed to understand the need to create a world. safe society for women, failed to protect their freedom or have failed to respect their needs. To aim for equal rights for women in our legal system is good intentioned, but not enough. Is it In the end, I express optimism for peace in this really that women want to be as equal as men? Is world as more and more men learn to it really that they want to be able to do all of the understand women, and more and more women stuff that men do? I doubt it. The underlying find their voice. spirit is that they simply desire to have full If you have ever been inspired to become a freedom to be able to express themselves and better version of yourself due to a woman, then shine. As men, all that is needed is to respect much of what I have said will resonate within that desire. you. On that note, I would like to wish all women Yes - that may come down to creating laws to a happy International Women’s Day - and a protect rights, having an equal ratio of women in reminder that as you shine, there are men who the boardroom, or encouraging women in the will stand by you. workforce, however the true spirit is to nurture a

“...as you shine, there are men who will stand by you”.

About Sharad Pattnaik Sharad is an engineer who takes an active interest in humanitarian concerns across the globe. Sharad strongly believes that while a large number of problems in this world can be solved with scientific advancement and technology, a lot more challenges can be effectively solved through creativity, collaboration and respect.



Equal Pay for International Women’s Day By Cara Templeman

When I originally heard about a television ad for equal women’s pay I thought it was a great cause and that it would be so much fun to make. When I read the script I was horrified at how bad the situation is.

About Cara Templeman Cara has her own business - Changing Faces - that provides makeup and hairstyling services for film theatre and fashion event. Cara believes that a business should provide excellent service yet also maintain a sense of integrity and community spirit so she is also involved in many volunteer projects.

It's hard to believe that living in a "1st world" country this sort of discrimination still exists. Women earn an average of 18% less than men, doing the exact I really want to know how companies have gotten same job. away with this for so long? Why isn't this common “Women earn an average of 18% less than knowledge and why don't people care enough to do men, doing the exact same job.” something about it. There are laws against discriminating due to race or religion, so why is it Due to this pay gap this means women need to ok to pay someone less just because they are a work an extra 66 days just to earn the same annual woman? salary as their male colleagues. This percentage is an average and in some industry sectors the gap can be over 29.3% How is this fair? This means that the average women’s super payout is about half the average male super payout.

The ad was on TV in the days before international women’s day. I urge you to watch this and let everyone know what is happening. There has to be a national standard or audit that can rectify this problem.

The worst part is that when investigated it's simply being a woman that accounts for 60% of that pay difference. This problem is also getting worse with the pay difference going from 17% in 2009 to 18% in 2010.

If you would like to know more, check out: www.equalpayday.com.au



Reflections on International Women’s Day By Alicia Curtis

My hope for the future is that the world acts against this discrimination against women. That a movement arises that is so strong, that the inequalities against women are swept away. I hope that in Australia, that working towards gender I feel privileged to stand here celebrating 100 equality is not looked down upon but is years of International Women’s Day on the embraced, appreciated and acted on. Really acted shoulders of women who have advocated for me on. before me during history. It’s because of their fight, passion and hardship that I have grown up I believe these issues need to be jointly in a different world.

I was honored to speak at the Minister for Women's Interests IWD morning tea - this is my speech!

addressed by both men and women. They are not women’s issues but world issues. • I have had access to education, to mentors and Women’s issues affects families, it’s affects to employment opportunities. husbands and children. It affects our • I can make my own money, open a bank account communities. • I have never felt like I’ve been held back because of my gender.

and manage my own finances.

• I have a partner that will do half the housework!

What we know is, there are huge benefits for • I can travel the world, attend international supporting women. Lawrence Summers from the conferences and learn from our cultures. World Bank has said “Investment in girls’ • I feel privileged to be part of the women’s education may well be the highest return organisation, BPW, started in 1930 by Lena investment available in the developing world”. Madesin Phillips. This organisation allows me to Likewise, it has been shown that companies that meet and be inspired by women in Perth, around have equal representation of women of their boards often outperform those who don’t. Australia and around the world. In my work as a leadership trainer, I get the • I am able to be part of the political process, to opportunity to work with some inspiring young stand for election and have my vote. women. I still remember asking 13 year old Megan I know I only have these things because of the Dann, an Indigenous boarder at St Brigids College, hard work of the women before me. I do know what her biggest goal was and she replied “to though, that not all women in Australia and around the world, have these same luxuries as I do. In Australia, we still have a gender pay gap, less women own companies or are on company boards and sexual harassment still goes on in the workplace. Around the world, young girls still don’t have access to education, are forced into slavery and prostitution, and don’t have access to sanitary products or appropriate healthcare. Women still face harsh discrimination around the world, much of this discrimination leads to death. My heart breaks for these women. Many of these challenges are described in the book ‘Half the Sky’ by Nicholas Kirstof and Sheryl Wudunn, a courageous book which describes itself as “A call to arms against the most shocking and widespread human rights violation of our age”.



speak for my people”. Or when I worked with • Janine who’s posted about the experiences of some newly arrived female migrants from Iran, women shaken by domestic violence, Afghanistan and Iraq and despite the hardships and struggles they’ve endured and they shared • Khadija, a seventh generation Australian Muslim with me their aspirations to become doctors, woman talking about the strengths of women teachers and above all, leaders of their community. Cara, who’s written about the plight of Equal Last year, I had the opportunity to facilitate a 6 • Pay, to name a few. month Young Women’s Leadership Program for the Muslim Women’s Support Centre, where we got to bring together 25 young women from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds to write a book called Journey to Leadership to inspire other young women to step up in their community. Despite their differences, they found and connected to the common humanity in us all.

Generation Y women have the strength to take these issues into new areas - we share our voice through blogging, on youtube, facebook, twitter and beyond. We may not hit the streets protesting like our

I’m excited that International Women’s Day older sisters - but do not doubt our passion for women’s rights. We choose to make a difference is crossing new mediums. through grassroots action, online advocacy and by actively breaking down the barriers such as I run an online community for young professionals culture, race, religion and gender. called Emergen. We have over 700 young emerging leaders across Australia on the community. Today we are hosting a Blogging for On International Women’s Day, I commit to being a Cause day to celebrate International Women’s part of the solution, I commit to supporting women both in Australia and around the world. I Day. We are encouraging young leaders - both male and female to share their thoughts about commit to not turning a blind eye about these issues but to speak confidently about them. I International Women’s Day. Already we’ve had believe I owe it to the women who have come over 10 posts - these have included: before me and the women that will come after me. • Daniel talking about the organisation he has started Hope Uganda which support of the education of women in Uganda,

Happy International Women’s Day!

About Alicia Curtis Alicia Curtis is one of Australia’s most experienced mentors of young leaders. She has managed her own leadership development consultancy since 2002, working with thousands of young people aged 12 to 35 years old. Alicia’s talent is in developing engaging leadership programs that inspire young professionals to step up in their careers and community. Currently, Alicia leads one of Australia’s largest and most active online communities for young professionals called Emergen. This website activates young emerging leaders through connection to people and resources, providing inspirational education opportunities and promotion.




By Marisa Wikramanayake

"Woman". That word scares me a bit. I don't know what it means to be a woman. No, wait. Scratch that. I do know what it means to be a woman. But I don't fit. Years ago, I was writing a weekly column for a newspaper. One day, someone asked me if I was a feminist. The question stumped me. I knew I was all for equality but I had never really bothered with the concept of feminism before. I knew the very definition of it had altered so fast over three decades. But this was a good idea for a column and hey, those were in short supply.

fought elsewhere and most people panicked about Communism." "But you both do what needs to be done. You both are strong. You both are stubborn enough to say 'This is what I want to do, this is what I am going to do, I have family and a career.'"

"Then I suppose we both are feminists - I just never had time to consider where I fitted in, what label I had. You did what you So I did what most confused young women do. I had to do." called my mother. I mean, this makes sense "So what about me and N (my sister)?" right? When in doubt, call the woman who had "I suppose you both must be ones too." the greatest impact on you? While I can't speak for my sister, never in my life "Mama, are you a feminist?" did I ever think I was a "feminist" or I was a "I don't know." "woman" in terms of it meaning "unable to do "If you don't know, how am I supposed to know?" something". "What is a feminist?"

And no one drove this point further home than my father.

"Well, I don't think it's strictly limited to the suffragettes and the burning bra business (which My father is a mature individual (though even as I as my friend puts it, is terribly expensive on the type these words, I attempt to hold back my laughter at the mere idea that poses) but in no lingerie budget)." way shape or form would you consider him to be "See, we never (in the 1970s socialist self macho. Nor would you consider him effeminate. imposed government rations society of Sri Lanka) No, my father was a man who worked with his thought about that - we were too busy trying to brain mostly. He is useless with technology - the survive. And it didn't matter if we were women, person with the IT qualifications in our family is we had to go out and work and do what we could my mother. He is also useless with any kind of to put something on the table." handiwork. Spatial awareness is not his strong "Isn't that being feminist?" suit. He loves cricket, played it but played terribly "We never thought about that - we did what we from all accounts. He also claims to be musical, although he forgets the words and seems to had to do. We still do." constantly hum the wrong note. When he dances, "Aunt D. is a feminist though, right?" he only moves the foot. "Yes, but she went to the States when she was My father is good for a few things: supporting his young and stayed there and fitted into the girls, being able to laugh at himself, being social, system. They didn't have the same kind of enthusiastic and snoring. He's very good at the problems we had. We had war and political snoring. On occasion he surprises us by unrest right on our soil, we had poverty and dispensing good advice - this happens once in a rations on top of that and inequality and the blue moon. inability to keep our universities open (the government kept shutting them down). We had With my mother juggling PhDs, a teaching career, a household and the constant mixture of pride no jobs. They had wars they opposed that were



and pressure you felt when you found out she learnt three languages while studying her Honours degree and therefore knows five in total, my sister and I felt confident that for the most part, we could tackle anything. Gender definitely wasn't a problem nor was it a barrier. Our mother taught us nothing was out of our reach though she hates it if we know something that she doesn't (like economics or how to bake bread - she's very competitive). Our father taught us to not take ourselves so seriously. Gender was never an issue within the family so to us it never was either. So it often shocked us (and still does) when we ventured out into the world and found all these barriers put up due to our gender or our ethnicity/nationality. We saw no need for them and we found it perplexing why anyone else would. To us gender was something as nondescript as stating our height. To me, gender is fluid. I mean, I love being a woman but my gender is my own and if I were to wake up tomorrow and decide I didn't want to be one any more I would fail to see why anyone else would find that odd or confronting.

“I love being a woman but my gender is my own and if I were to wake up tomorrow and decide I didn't want to be one any more I would fail to see why anyone else would find that odd or confronting”. But you go out into society and there are these ideas wafting around. That you have to be this size, this skin colour (oh god this skin colour issue never seems to die, does it?), this age, this class, this income bracket or even worse - that you have to think, behave and act a certain way, otherwise you are not a woman.

In Sri Lanka for instance, you are expected to go out and get a degree, get a job, live with your parents till you get married, work, have kids and keep house. When you do get married, you must have dinner parties where the men sit on the verandah, smoke, drink scotch and talk business, politics and cricket (and invariably get everything wrong), and the women sit in the living room, drink fruit juice, soft drinks and sherry and talk only about what their kids are doing (doctor, engineer or lawyer to keep up appearances), how hard it is to get domestic help, where you got that lovely skirt (sarcasm intended), and complain about the husbands. So I do know what women are expected to be, or what it supposedly means to be a "woman" - but I don't fit, and I don't mind that (although I can't deny that it would probably make my life a whole lot easier if I did ‘fit’). Today, I'd like to toast the women who don't fit. Who break out of these nonsensical stereotypes that don't make anyone happy, and do it even when it’s scary. Who do it because they have to. I'd also like to toast the men and women who stand behind them, and who raised them so that they couldn't possibly conceive any other way of being. Who think of themselves as human first and therefore just as capable and deserving as men or anyone else is.

“Today, I'd like to toast the women who don't fit. Who break out of these nonsensical stereotypes that don't make anyone happy.” If that makes us feminists, then so be it. We don't mind the word - we rarely think about it. Our badge of pride is ourselves. Don't mind us, we'll just be quietly (or not so quietly) living our lives in this corner over here.

About Marisa Wikramanayake Marisa plays with words for a living as a writer, editor and journalist. Science Network WA pays her to talk to fascinating scientists, prior to which she penned a weekly column about politics, popular culture and life in Perth for The Sunday Leader newspaper. Marisa occasionally gets to listen to and write about the latest independent music, and constantly plays games, takes photos and writes about books she has read. When she isn't working, she's - well - working on her novel ‘Sedition’. Marisa also runs the ‘How to write a book group on Emergen. For more on Marisa, check out her website: marisa.com.au



International Women’s Day Wow - The International Women's Day Hall of Fame held on March 7 2011 was amazing. 100 women who do amazing things. I will seriously Google each of their names to find out how they have impacted their community. AND I finally got to hear the medical legend that is Dr Fiona Wood speak! Having heard so much about her and her 6 kids, and doing surgery - the area of medicine dominated by the boy's club - every girl who has studied medicine or is currently will talk about her for years.

By Isabel Taco

immigrants, bartering eggs and chicken with the locals. I remember her sayings because mum repeats them all of the time (she had a way of making things rhyme in spanish - so even if I wanted to translate them in english, some charm of them would go). I even know the songs she sang because Mum still sings them. I like knowing that I ‘kind of’ inherited her story through my mother, and the best compliment someone has ever given me was that I was as gentle and as kind as my mother...awww!

They asked different people who the most influential woman in their life had been. Mine, hands down, is my mother. I love the quote ‘If you educate a man, you educate that man and his family; if you educate a woman, you educate generations’. My mother's mother was a rural teacher in Peru. My father's mother was a maid and a nurse's aid in Peru. Both taught their children to dream big and work hard. It's their stories I remember hearing as a kid how grandma travelled on boats up and down the amazon, living with Mum in the school, teaching local indigenous children as well as the

“If you educate a man, you educate that man and his family; if you educate a woman, you educate generations.”

About Isabel Taco Isabel is a medicine student. She grew up in Australia, but was born in her parent’s home country of Lima, Peru. Growing up, Isabel could hear the wild cats of the Amazon. Her Dad is originally from the mountains of Arequipa, and her Mum from Iquitos. Isabel is most passionate about social injustice and health working hand in hand, and wants to create change and do good in the world by being of service to people. She quotes Kofi Annan: “It is my aspiration that health finally will be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for’.



What does International Women’s Day Mean to Me? By Almetra Bethlehem

What does International Women's Day mean to me? Who has influenced me the most in my life? Who shapes the way I think? Who has empowered me to be the best that I can be as a woman?

• Be respectful and tolerant;

International Women's Day is a day I honestly have never thought about until I attended the WA Woman’s Hall of Fame Ceremony recently. Seeing 100 Women recognised for their strengths, courage, charity, community work and discoveries inspired and empowered me and more than 100 other Women in the room.

• Believe in what you want to believe in, as long as you don't harm yourself or others; and

I owe a lot to my two younger sisters and my two closest friends. If it wasn't for these amazing young women in my life, I would not be the strong, resilient woman I am today. They have certainly helped shaped who I am and my thinking. They are some of the greatest influences in my life so far.

• Be creative; • Be thankful; • Believe in, and love yourself; • “Be strong - don't let a man tell you what to do or force you to do things you don't want to do";

• Stand up for yourself and what you believe in. These words of wisdom have lifted my spirits and empowered me to achieve my goals in life. I now believe that I can be anything: a pilot, lawyer, judge, scientist, CEO or Director. These encouraging words were important to me, especially as a young girl as my Mother and her family perceived my sisters and I as future housewives. It bothered me that they didn't see the potential in us, just because we were born female. Not that being a housewife is a bad thing, as these days a woman can have a career, be a good housewife and mother. At my current workplace (the Department of the Attorney General) there are many women who have high positions and who are mothers. This is a positive image and a great example for other young women who aspire to be in a high position and who want to have a family one day.

The person I have to thank the most and who has empowered me more than anyone else in life is my Father. If it hadn’t been for him, my sisters and I would have a very different life - we probably wouldn't be living in Australia, have gone to school, or the independence to aspire to do what we want. My sisters and I would likely to have been married off by our Mother and have I had the most positive life experiences in Bali, been expected to behave like glamorous trophy where I was fortunate to live for almost seven wives. years. It was here I witnessed the increasing “The person I have to thank the most and power of Women on a small-scale. In 1990 my Dad opened an Opal Business in Bali and decided who has empowered me more than to live in Bali for seven years. It was here I anyone else in life is my Father.” attended the "SD 3 Saraswati" Primary School. My Father taught us in life to: It was here I learn’t many great histories about • Demand Respect from men and women; • Be independent, for “The only better person who can look after you, is you - Don’t rely on Men"; • Get educated to the highest level; • Manage your own finances; • Work hard towards your goals and dreams. You can be anything you want to be. Women can do anything. You can have it all;

Indonesian heroes who were women. The school did not discriminate against girls or boys. We were treated as equal. In fact, girls were empowered to be great and pushed to the limit to do better than the boys. We were taught History, Science, Maths, Social Studies, English, Religion, Ethics, Sport, Music, Dancing, Arts and many more. The girls in my classroom ended up kicking the boys butts in almost every subject and social aspect of the school! The girls in my



class were role models for not only the girls, but the boys too. The girls were democratically elected every year by their fellow classmates to represent the year as President, Vice President and Secretary. Amazingly, from year three to year six, the girls were consecutively chosen to represent the class. The boys didn't mind the girls representing them though. Another memory is from 1997. Some of the boys were passionate about Megawati, the Woman Leader of the Democratic Indonesian Party (PDI). They used to cheer for her in the hope that she would become the President of Indonesia one day, and she did in 2001. I am fortunate to have never witnessed girls being ‘disadvantaged’. The girls in my class were in the top 10 percent of the school, and we admired each other for different reasons. It is important to realise that there are Women in developing countries being recognised for the great work they are doing. I recall Mothers Day celebrations in Indonesia, which is not just any other Mother's Day. In Indonesia, Mother's Day is a day to celebrate the Indonesian heroine Kartini. There are many great histories, songs and poems written about Kartini, who was a woman who revolutionised education for girls in Indonesia in the early 1900’s. It was because of her vision,

will, inspiration and the power of her words, that girls in Indonesia today enjoy the right to education. In the early 1900s, reading and writing weren’t something girls in Indonesia were able to enjoy. Kartini’s fortunate aristocratic upbringing allowed her to go to school to the age of 12 where she learn’t to read, write and become fluent in Dutch. We used to sing a national anthem about Kartini at least once a month. Every time I sang the anthem, I felt empowered and grateful that her vision had given us opportunities. When I think about it, it is amazing how one woman's vision impacted the history of one country in a positive way. The lesson I gained from International Women's Day is this. Women today are lucky to have the freedom to think, choose and learn, and we shouldn’t take things women fought for in the past for granted - women such as Edith Cowan, Eleanor Roosevelt, my favorite Kartini, and many more. They are relying on the future generations of women to continue the fight for greater equality, safety and emancipation. We need to empower our sisters in less fortunate countries to strive for emancipation, equality and mostly importantly safety, so that they can also enjoy what we enjoy.

“We need to help empower our sisters in less fortunate countries to strive for emancipation, equality and mostly importantly safety, so that they can also enjoy what we have to enjoy.”

About Almetra Bethlehem: Almetra is 25 years old. Her father is from the Netherlands and her mother is from Indonesia. Almetra currently works for the Department of the Attorney General as a Senior Records Officer. Her special interest is community work, international politics and working with people from diverse backgrounds. Almetra volunteers with the Lady of Gowrie Community Centre as a Homework Support Tutor helping refugee children with their homework. Almetra loves volunteering because she has always wanted to work with people from diverse multicultural backgrounds. She also wanted to give something back to the community since Australia has supported her and her family.


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