Young UN Women Australia Perth
Photo by: Jessica Lockhart
Young UN Women Australia Perth â€˘ October 2011
From the YUNWA Perth Committee Chair|Chair’s Report
elcome to our first zine for the 2011-2012 year! It’s been a busy few months for the Young UN Women Australia Perth Committee and all our members. Our first event, the Ellington Jazz Night, was a resounding success – thanks to all of you who came along to enjoy the beautiful music from Nicola Milan and Milan’s Mischief. Soon afterwards, a Young UN Women team ran (or walked) the City to Surf. As you’ll read, not only did they meet the Premier, but they raised more funds for the UN Women Spring Campaign! In October we are continuing to focus on the Spring Campaign because it raises awareness of such a fundamentally important issue – violence against women. Disturbingly, many studies suggest that there is a prevailing attitude in the Pacific region that men are justified in perpetrating violence against their partners. As a result, about two in three Pacific women have reported experiencing physical and/or sexual violence from their partners. Our recent Spring Campaign events have raised funds which are channeled straight into the Pacific Facility Fund. This Fund gives small grants to effective, grassroots organisations working in the region to eradicate violence against women. Some of the Fund’s success stories include: •In Kiribati, the Alcohol Anonymous and Family Recovery (AAFR) facility addressed the link between alcohol abuse and violence against women with counselling and education services. •The Department of Women in Fiji established a ‘Zero Tolerance Violence Free Com-
munity’ program with an education initiative on human rights, a media campaign and community training. So THANK YOU to all our members who have supported our events and/or made donations to this cause. And it’s not too late – visit here to donate today. Since our last newsletter, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at a few events to promote UN Women and our ideals of gender equality and female empowerment. In August, Tegan Smith (Events Coordinator) and I were invited to an event run by Workplace Services which aimed to connect female apprentices with community organisations. It was fantastic to be able to speak to so many different women about gender equality during the “speed networking” part of the day – and we got to pat a baby dingo, which was a bit unexpected, but it was very cute. Then in September I spoke at the Young UN Women UWA Breakfast, together with representatives from Amnesty International and the Eighty Twenty Foundation. The theme was The Change You Want to See In the World – an inspiring topic which got everyone’s day off to a great start. I must also say that the breakfast buffet at Miss Maud’s was amazing and I wish I’d been able to sample everything! Congratulations to Emma and the UWA subcommittee for organising this event. This year Emma and I aim to build upon our experience with the UWA subcommittee to establish subcommittees at more university campuses and high schools around Perth. We are recruiting Campus Ambassadors at the moment, so keep an eye out for the first cross-campus event, coming soon. I hope you enjoy this update from our team at YUNWA Perth and I look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events soon.
Anna Johnson Chair Young UN Women Australia Perth Committee
Want to get move involved in YUNWA Perth? Email our Memberships and Volunteers Coordinator, Anna Larson, at email@example.com for an application form.
TABLE Of contents 2 ................... Chair’s Report: Anna Johnson 4 ........................ Profile: Jennifer Mitchell 6 ........................ Event: Ellington Jazz Club 7............................Event: Activ City to Surf 8 ... UWA President’s Report: Emma Tormey 9 .......................................... For a Good Cause 10............... Opinion: Women’s Justice in WA 12... Upcoming Event: Runway for a reason 13............................ Movie Review: The Help 14.............................. Book Review: The Help
Photo by: Jessica Lockhart
Profile Jennifer Mitchell |by Athanae Lucev
Jennifer Mitchell was fifteen years old when she first realised that by working together to achieve a common goal, a dedicated group of people can make a difference. The Young UN Women Australia Perth Committee Secretary was one of around 40,000 protestors at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference at Seattle in 1999. It was her first exposure to the concept of social justice, and one that has partly inspired a study and career based on developing human rights and achieving gender equality. ‘Although the way I want to change the world has evolved over the years, this passion to make a difference is still what gets me out of bed in the morning,’ the Bainbridge Island native said. ‘With the ‘whole world watching’ it was my first introduction to issues that were bigger than those found on my small island.’ Jen now works at the Substantive Equality Unit at the Equal Opportunity Commission. There, with a small team, she works with WA public sector departments to ensure policies and practices are not discriminatory and do not reproduce patterns of inequality, even if they are unintended. ‘Substantive Equality, or real equality, is a shift away from the old ‘one size fits all’ approach to delivering services, and recognises that if you want to treat people equally you may have to be prepared to treat them differently to achieve equal outcomes,’ she said. ‘It is excit-
ing to see Western Australia leading the way in a project like this - achieving Substantive Equality is a big topic in Human Rights, and the SEU is the first program in Australia of its kind.’ A particularly special project Jen is working on includes a research partnership with traditional Noongar Elders in Esperance to look at how they would like government agencies to best consult with them. Raised in the US, Jen completed a Masters degree in Human Rights through the London School of Economics. She travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to Zambia to research her dissertation on the issue of how international refugee rights translate into real human rights. Jen also spent a year on exchange in Lyon, France, and speaks excellent French! Jen had been accepted into the American Peace Corps when she came on what was to be a four-month trip to Australia in 2006. She fell in love with Western Australia while working with Noongar people in the south-west, and fell in love with her now-husband Myles and never quite made it back to the Peace Corps. She does, however, travel back to the US as often as possible to see her family there. Jen’s involvement in UN Women began in 2009, when she took part in the Spring Walk in Kings Park. After speaking with Beth Shaw, now Executive Director at the United Nations Association of Australia, but then UNIFEM (UN Women’s previous name) Perth chair, she was inspired to join the group.
‘Beth’s passion was just contagious. She said want our sons and daughters to have to fight that the committee was interested in working these same battles to achieve genuine equality on policy issues, and brought me on board as – not just equality under law. the first policy coordinator,’ she said. ‘Gender equality isn’t just a nice thing to do, Jen has the special privilege of attending the it’s smart,’ she said. ‘According to the National Commonwealth People’s Forum in the lead up Centre for Economic Modelling, if we were to the Commonwealth Heads of Government to eliminate systemic gender discrimination Meeting this month. The Forum is held every in the economy it would be worth $93 billion two years, and delegates are invited to speak dollars to the Australian economy, or 8.5% of on any issues affecting people living in Com- GDP. I love that Young UN women is working to inspire a diverse monwealth coun“There are still huge group of young women tries. We are proud to and men to tackle these ishave her as a represues head-on, and to work sentative of Western that block women from together to promote genAustralia and of the Committee. our full potential der equality.’ Committee chair Anna The Committee is around the world and right Johnson said the team benincredibly privileged to have someone of here in Western Australia.” efited enormously from Jen’s extensive knowledge Jen’s academic and intellectual rigour and with such great passion and experience in the areas of human rights, equal opportunity, and gender issues. ‘We are for gender equality on the team. ‘I think our biggest challenge is having con- constantly inspired by her sense of integrity, versations with people who aren’t already con- unflagging commitment to justice and equalverts to gender equality. I’m looking forward ity, and positive outlook,’ Anna said. ‘I can’t to being able to build on all of our work so far think of anyone I would rather send to take and get the message out to many people who part in the Commonwealth People’s Forum!’ might not have heard of us,’ Jen said. ‘Gender Jen says one thing everyone could do to imequality is such an important issue, and I think prove gender equality in day-to-day life is sometimes there’s a perception in our genera- speak up when colleagues, friends or family tion that because we’re equal in law and have members make sexist comments, she said. the same rights as men, all the battles have ‘It seems really basic, but standing up even been won. There are still huge systemic barri- when someone is ‘just having a bit of fun’ ers that block women from achieving our full makes all the difference to the way we see potential around the world and right here in women and men,’ she said. ‘We know from Western Australia.’ human rights how important this ‘bystander Citing statistics like the fact that one in three effect’ is in changing attitudes, and you never Australian women still experience domestic know what a difference your input can make and family violence and that the gender pay to someone down the track.’ gap of 25 per cent in Western Australia is the biggest in the nation and at least seven per cent over the national average, Jen said she doesn’t
EVENT Ellington Jazz Club Nicola Milan and members of her band ‘Mi- mestic violence. But many other countries in
lan’s Mischief ’ were gracious enough to lend their incredible talents to entertain guests at the 2011-12 committee’s first event for the year.
the Asia-Pacific region do not afford their citizens the same legislative protection. Nicola told committee members she was keen to be involved with a cause that would help advance women not just in Australia but across the Asia-Pacific region. ‘I have always been passionate about gender equality, especially in underdeveloped countries and places where culture may play a large role in the subjugation of women and their rights,’ Milan said. ‘I also believe that targeting issues at a policy level can be an effective way to ensure positive change, which is what UN Women is all about.’
Nicola Milan performing at the Ellington
The Ellington Jazz Club in Mount Lawley hosted more than 70 people for an intimate night of sweet tunes. Nicola and band members took the audience on a nostalgic trip down memory lane with swing songs, Latin jazz and ballads from the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
“I have always been passionate about gender equality, especially in underdeveloped countries...” The event raised money for the Pacific Facility Fund, which helps train staff and provides funding for small organisations working to end violence against women in the Pacific region, and focuses on access to justice for women. While Australia faces its own struggle to reduce family and domestic violence, it is important that we also work with our regional neighbours to engender cultural change there too. Domestically, we have strong laws prohibiting do-
A special thanks must go to Nicola, her band members and to Graham Wood and staff at The Ellington, without whom the event would not have been possible. Nearly $1000 was raised on the evening, and there were many new faces at the event who the committee hopes to see at future events in the coming months.
Chevron City to Surf
For the first time, the Young UN Women Among the more dedicated team members was
Australia Perth Committee fielded a team in the 2011 Chevron City to Surf for Activ Foundation. A group of ten young men and women including committee members and their friends – many of
Andrew Hobbs, one of only two male participants on the team, and the only one to run the half marathon. Andrew finished the race in a personal best time of 1 hour and 50 minutes, putting him ten minutes ahead of average for participants in that event. Special note must also be made of committee member Martina Ucnikova, whose training efforts included 6am Sunday morning sessions at Jacob’s Ladder! The walking team cooled off with a wander down to the water at City Beach, medals proudly in hand. Congratulations to all team members. It was a fabulous day and certainly sets a precedent for further participation in greater numbers the future.
The Team with WA Premier Colin Barnett
them City to Surf first-timers - gave up a Sunday morning sleep-in and put their athletic reputations on the line to take part in the event. Luckily enough the weather gods and goddesses woke up on the right side of bed and granted a sunny day for it. Staff at UN Women Australia generously provided hats, water bottles, t-shirts and bags emblazoned with the message ‘Empower women. Empower a nation’. Considering the crowd taking part in the event was upwards of 40,000, the team members were great ambassadors for UN Women and did a great job promoting the brand and increasing name recognition for the organisation. Secretary Jen Mitchell hosted a quick breakfast at her home and a much-needed and appreciated pot of coffee before the event. Ladies in the 12km walk event bumped into Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett near the starting line and were lucky enough to get him to agree to posing for a quick photo before setting off up the Terrace towards Kings Park.
Emma Tormey|UWA President’s Report
The Young UN Women UWA Committee has enjoyed a successful first year. The first semester event was focused on the sex trafficking industry and we were privileged enough to host the 2010 CNN Hero of the year Anuradha Koirala, who spoke about her work to save young women abused and exploited in the sex trafficking industry and her work with Maiti Nepal. Anuradha opened our eyes to a whole other world, providing insights into the industry, which we couldnt have imagined. Recently the committee held their second semester event, a breakfast at Miss Maud’s in Perth City. The breakfast was themed “you have to be the change you want to see in the world,” inspired by Mahatma Ghandi’s famous words. We had three guest speakers, all young people from Perth who are actively involved in the community, who spoke about the change they wanted to see in their life time and how that change could be brought about. Special thanks to the Chair of Young UN Women Perth Australia, Anna Johnson, Luke O’Keefe, co-founder of eighty twenty vision and Vasili Hatzis from Amnesty International, who each presented on the day. The guests of the breakfast were then invited to actively participate in the change they wanted to see in the world and the ideas which were generated can be viewed on our blog. The money raised from the event will be given to UN Women’s Asia Pacific Facility Fund. As the academic year comes to a close, I have been very proud to lead such a dynamic and resource-
ful committee. Young UN Women UWA has managed to run successful and engaging events in its first year and I hope this can be carried through into future years. The UWA experience is now being used as a model to set up clubs at Curtin University and Notre Dame, which is momentus step for Young UN Women Perth, to tap into University students across Perth. Before I close, I would like to thank Davina Hunter, our treasurer for 2011. Davina has brought her club management experience and treasury skills to the UWA committee, which has been a major part of the UWA club’s success. Davina is graduating at the end of this year, so her involvement in the campus club is drawing to a close. I hope that other motivated young people will follow in her footsteps and join the campus clubs of Young UN Women Perth Australia.
Emma Tormey UWA President 2011
For a good
End of Polio Concert|Your Chance to WIN Polio – a disease which has disabled millions and pulled people further into poverty – has been reduced by 99% over the past 30 years. Our generation stands on the brink of eliminating this disease entirely. But crucial vaccination work is being constrained by a global funding gap, threatening the prospect of eradication. On the 28th October, against the backdrop of the largest ever gathering of Commonwealth leaders, The End of Polio Concert will drive the issue of polio back into the international spotlight, demonstrating mass public support for investment in eradication efforts. Young UN Women Australia Perth is proud to be supporting The End of Polio campaign, and the call to end this debilitating disease. Please join us in showing your support for this important campaign. All you have to do is sign a petition. The Global Poverty Project is offering YUNWA Perth supporters the chance to win tickets to this exclusive campaign event. We’re giving our supporters the chance to join John Legend, Bliss N Eso and more at this history-shaping event. To be in with your chance to win a double pass to The End of Polio Concert at Belvoir Amphitheatre, Perth, simply add your voice to the call to realise The End of Polio here.
Photo by: Jessica Lockhart
INJUSTICE anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” Women’s Justice in Western Australia|
|by Jennifer Mitchell
It can be easy in a country like Australia – where justice is blind, and men and women benefit from equal recognition under the law – to assume that the battle for gender equality has been won. So it may have come as a surprise last Friday when Neil Morgan, Western Australian Inspector of Custodial Services, released a report detailing stark conditions in Bandyup Women’s prison which he says may discriminate against women in our criminal justice system. His report states that women in Bandyup, including those who have not yet been found guilty of any crime, have limited access to legal resources and far less than their counterparts in male prisons. At one stage in 2010, Mr. Morgan observed that 90 women were sleeping on floors in Bandyup in “cramped single cells”, and in one unit with particularly impoverished infrastructure, he found “obvious levels of mental illness and the palpable anxiety and despair.”
constitutional and regional courts . The second noted that between 1984 and 2003, the rate of women’s imprisonment in Australia rose by 209%, compared to 75% percent for men. UN Women noted that these “steep increases are primarily due to greater use of imprisonment for offences once punished by non-custodial sentences.” Indeed according to one Australian Government department, in 2000 roughly two-thirds of women in prison were there for non-violent offences, most were socially and economically disadvantaged, and have experienced sexual or physical violence at some time in their lives. In Western Australia, one report found in the same year that fully 40.5% of Aboriginal women entering prison were there for defaulting on fines.
“... in 2000, roughly twothirds of women in prison were there for nonviolent offences, most were socially and economically disadvantaged...”
Claiming that these deficiencies could potentially be discrimination under the Equal Opportunity Act, the Inspector said, “It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Bandyup is just having to ‘make do’ when compared with male prisons. We found too many areas where the facilities and services for the women prisoners fall well short of equal treatment with male prisons.” Access to justice has long been recognized as a fundamental Human Right, both of itself and essential to securing other human rights. In July of this year UN Women chose this important issue as a barometer of women’s advancement in its first report: “Progress of the World’s Women – In Pursuit of Justice”. The 166page report detailed advancements which have been made toward achieving access to justice, as well as significant barriers which continue to impact on women around the world. Australia received two mentions in the report. The first ranked Australia 43rd in the world (along with Angola and Latvia) for our lack of female judges in our national,
It is also important to recognise that often the barriers to accessing real, or substantive, equality are not evenly distributed throughout the population – the UN Women report highlights that in many parts of Latin America, “most indigenous women do not speak the majority languages, Spanish or Portuguese, and provision for translation in the justice system is limited or non-existent” . Frustratingly, this barrier is just as evident in our own state; many Aboriginal people in Western Australia (particularly in remote and regional areas) speak English as a second, third or fourth language, however for most Aboriginal languages there are no official translating services available. The only service provider in the State, the Kimberley Interpreting Service, remains underfunded and under-resourced to meet demand. This means that Aboriginal people from any other part of WA (priority areas including the Pilbara and Goldfields) who require interpreters must rely on ad-hoc services from community and family members to understand complex court proceedings and health matters that most of us take for granted . Imagine being put in jail in France or Rus-
sia, and trying to tell your side of the story without the assistance of an English translator – the most obvious difference between this scenario and the current reality in WA is that Aboriginal people are not visiting someone else’s count r y, they are the first Australians. Martin Luther King Jr. once famously said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, and nowhere could this remain more true than in the quest for true gender equality. Ensuring access to justice in Western Australia is not only about the equality of women in Bandyup Women’s Prison or those whose right to a translator is not being met, it is about justice for all women in our society. While Neil Morgan’s reports show us how far we still have to go to reach that goal, it is also an opportunity for us to work together to address these barriers and achieve real equality. Disclaimer – the views expressed here are the author’s own and do not represent either the views of UN Women Australia or the Equal Opportunity Commission (WA).
REVIEW The Help Movie Review|by Annabel Hay The Help is based off the bestselling book of the same name, starring Viola Davies, Octavia Spencer and emerging star Emma Stone. Skeeter, (Emma Stone) a young Southern notquite-so-Belle naively wants to become a journalist. She decides she can reach her dreams by writing about something that ‘disturbs her’ – the day-to-day lives of of African-American maids. This is the start of a relationship with two particular maids, Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer), which challenges Skeeter’s perception of her friends, her family and herself. It is clear the movie has been pitched as a ‘feel good hit’ for the American summer, which has been undermined by criticism in the states for its ‘civil rights lite’ view of racial inequality in America’s deep South. This was something that bugged me during the movie, with a definite lack deeper investigation into the relationships, and institutionalised racial tension, that existed between the maids and their employers. Obviously this is to the movie’s detriment, with the intricacies of the maids and their employers simplified into a more streamlined script to maintain the audience’s attention. As a result the movie has the tendency to be unsubtle and sentimental in parts. But that doesn’t deny the film’s heart, and the attempt to make a lighterhearted movie that looks at race relations in a troubled time in America’s South. Despite a more streamlined story, the script is fairly good and beautifully filmed, with the cast appearing to have a lot of fun with their roles. Casting is fantastic and Viola Davis brings warmth and intelligence to the role of Aibileen. She is stronger than Octavia Spencer, whose immense talent is limited by a script that occasionally threatens to lapse Minny into a caricature instead of allowing Spencer to grow the role into a more complex and sympathetic part. Emma Stone is growing more and more with each blockbuster role and her eagerness is cap-
tivating. Similarly, Bryce Dallas Howard is fantastic as the racist Hilly Holbrook, who’s desire to maintain the racial status quo undermines her humanity and assertions of Christian charity. A disappointment is the usually delightful Alison Janney whose talents are wasted in a stilted portrayal of Skeeter’s mother Overall, The Help is a worthy – if light – portrayal of a time where the relationship between maids and their employers was difficult to navigate. Criticism that the film glosses over racial themes is a fair comment, but this view doesn’t detract from the movie’s undeniable moments of love, connection and joy between the main female characters. It is a great movie and one for both old and young to enjoy – 3.5 stars.
The Help Book Review|by Anna Johnson Recently I gave a copy of this book to a good friend and her partner as a gift. I told them that one of them would love it and the other would probably hate it. That’s because it’s a book which has divided people – public and critics alike. On the one hand, there’s a lot to enjoy about The Help. It’s written in a very readable style, and the characters are believable and interesting. The book in set in the 1960s during the Jim Crow era in Mississippi. Skeeter, the main character, is from a well-to-do white family, and just wants to be a writer – but her family would prefer that she find herself a husband and settle down. Meanwhile, she can’t figure out why her beloved black nanny Constantine has disappeared, and no one in her family will tell her what happened while she was away at college. In search of a great story which will impress her writing mentor, Skeeter starts to meet up with the eponymous black nannies and housekeepers in her town, with a view to interviewing them and giving voice to their stories, until now untold. For the times, this represents a shocking alliance, and the stories that “the help” begin to tell will send shockwaves through the predominantly racist (and sexist) local community. The other two main characters, Aibileen and Minny, are rendered vividly by Stockett’s gift for characterisation. However, The Help left me feeling very uneasy. I understand why a white woman such as Stockett would be compelled to write a novel about the world in which she grew up. In interviews, she has spoken at length about her love for her black nanny and the way writing the Help caused her to think about what her nanny’s life must have been like. But something about a white person writing in the voice – including the dialect – of black characters strikes me as problematic, even while I acknowledge that the novel represents an at14
tempt to celebrate the lives of black women working as servants at the time. This is only enhanced by the fact that, despite everything, the novel isn’t really centred around Aibileen, Minny, and the other black women. It’s really about Skeeter the budding writer – and Aibileen, Minny, and Constantine are ultimately positioned simply as the backdrop to Skeeter’s journey of self-discovery. They are an interesting, sympathetic backdrop, certainly – but a backdrop nonetheless. Maybe I’d feel differently if this wasn’t the case – I’m not sure. I highly recommend The Help, but read it critically - 4 stars.
Photo by: Jessica Lockhart
Contributors Anna JohnsonChair Annabel HayFundraising and Sponsorship Director Athanae LucevCommunications Director Emma TormeyCampus Ambassador Coordinator & UWA President Jennifer MitchellSecretary Lucy FarleyGraphic Design Sandra De Witt HemalaMarketing Director & Editor
With special thanks to Jessica Lockhart for the breathtaking images.
Young UN Women PERTH
UN_Women_Perth Photo by: Jessica Lockhart