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International Women's Day 2019

On Friday, 8 March the world celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) in various ways, promoting the 2019 theme of ‘Balance for Better’. At IHD, Resident Leaders (RLs) Qi and Swapna hosted an evening of inspiration and interaction, including a gallery of past and present influential women from around the world.

Qi and Swapna’s motivation was to provide a forum for residents to learn about cultural and personal obstacles people have faced in their fight for success and gender equality, while also incorporating the men in the community who are invaluable pillars of support.

“International Women’s Day is not only a day when women gather to celebrate,” Qi said. “It’s a spiritual event where women are willing to help each other after learning of the barriers that they have themselves or share with others.”

“Empowering women is very necessary for gender equality,” Swapna added. “Society flourishes when women are given equal respect and not taken for granted. International Women’s Day is a strong indicator of the strength of womanhood. It’s a day in the year to reflect on all that women have survived, changed, and will continue to change.”

Determined to build on from previous IHD IWD events, Qi and Swapna set-out to create a visual representation of just some of the resident’s views and experiences surrounding the theme of Balance for Better.

“We had the chance to capture residents sharing their personal stories and views on International Women’s Day,” Swapna said. “It’s an amazing thing to discover what’s inside people around us.”

“Hearing of their successes and failures, influences, rituals, hopes and dreams. It was all empowering! To know we’re not alone, and we women are not powerless after all.”

Both CDU lecturer Dr Devaki Monani and PhD candidate Hannah Taino-Spick humbly accepted Qi’s invitation to speak on the night. 

Dr Monani is a lecturer in Social Work. She has taught Human Rights and Social Justice, Law and Social Policy. Her research deals with multicultural policy and exploring the interface of immigrant settlement, health, employment and well-being. She has co-published with leading experts on multiculturalism in the area of human rights and immigrant settlement. She is currently evaluating a migrant skills and employment program for Metro Assist, funded by Multicultural New South Wales. She is also currently undertaking a literature review on mental health and women from immigrant South Asian backgrounds commissioned by the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Services.

Hannah Taino-Spick is a former Royal Australian Air Force Logistics Officer who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Management) in 2009. By the time of her discharge in 2015, she had undergone and completed air power studies, and a Graduate Certificate in International and Community Development. Her pathway and interest in academia were influenced by her desire to try new things as a ‘civilian’ and forge her way into pathways that helped her reinscribe a new post-discharge veteran identity. Since discharge, Hannah has completed studies in Gender Studies, Mental Health, International and Community Development, and qualified as a social worker. While a PhD candidate with CDU, Hannah also runs Good Dog – animal-assisted intervention and therapy dog services. 

“A highlight of the night was definitely the two guest speakers,” Qi said. “They helped residents understand different points of view regarding the International Women’s Day, and how each of us can contribute to achieving ‘balance for better’ in small, everyday ways.”

“They’ve shown that who we are is what defines us, not our gender.”

Following the guest speakers, attendees mingled and strolled through the gallery. Both Qi and Swapna are grateful for the help and support they’ve received in the process of putting together the IHD IWD. 

“I feel lucky that we were given the opportunity to organise this event,” Swapna said. “Qi and I worked hard to make International Women’s Day at IHD a success.”

“This event makes me realise how much I have grown up these past years,” Qi added. “From my arrival at IHD to now, where I’m organising an event with my team members to raise awareness of gender equality.”

“Living in Australia is difficult, especially for people whose culture is different. Sometimes I doubt if it’s worth living in a country without my family around. However, when I reflect on what I have done and how much I have grown up here, I do think it’s worth it.”