Celebrating International Women’s Day

Celebrating women, challenging stereotypes and discussing how we can move forward to a more equitable world were all on the agenda as BCYF, Bethany Community Support and other local organisations came together on International Women’s Day on March 8.

Staff from both BCYF and Bethany were able to hear from a special IWD panel, which included BCYF’s Cleo Eadie.

Cleo joined BCYF as a social work student in the Research team, and upon finishing her placement, joined the Family & Community Services team as her passion was with working families and focusing on their building their strengths.  

Cleo has worked with significant complexities, including supporting women who have felt safe enough to disclose that they are victim-survivor of family violence. She has recently stepped into two secondment opportunities as a Senior Child and Family Practitioner, supporting new Child and Family Practitioners to build their skills and knowledge.

The IWD panel event also featured Angela Carr from Bethany, Hayley Boehm from Wathaurong Aboriginal Co Op, Dejah Grull from City of Greater Geelong, Alicea Stoney from Deakin University and Sasha Kunjasic from Bethany, reflecting on this year’s UN Women theme, ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future.’

As well as participating in the panel, Cleo has shared a little about herself and her thoughts on IWD below. 

What does IWD day mean to you? 

For me, IWD is a day to recognise and celebrate the achievements of women all over the world and the continued collective movement towards empowerment, inclusion and choice. It is also a day to acknowledge that there is still more work to be done in this space and calling upon further change honours the courage and determination of the women that stood at the forefront of this movement before us.  

Why is IWD important? 

While we have come a long way in terms of empowering women in the last century it is important to recognise that many women around the world continue to suffer the consequences of inequality. With young girls in Afghanistan continuing to fight against a recent ban on their access to higher education, a basic human right, it is more important than ever to promote the visibility of women’s rights. 

This year’s theme is “Embrace Equity”, how do you impart that in your work? 

Working in the social sector very quickly opens your eyes to the significant difference between equity and equality. We all start our lives with uniquely different challenges and working in a space of equity means that the experience of adversity for each individual needs to be understood and recognised fully in order to provide support that promotes sustainable and meaningful change. In this way, practice that is focused on equity rather than equality means that the families we support are feeling heard and understood, and ultimately have a greater chance of achieving their full potential. 

How do you consider equity in your everyday life? 

Applying equity to everyday life means that we are conscious and considerate of the barriers that other face and that we don’t all have equal access to opportunities. When we recognise this both within ourselves and others we are better placed to be empowering and uplifting members of society.  

How do you interpret the theme “Cracking The Code”? 

In a society that is becoming increasingly online-focused, it is important to recognise that women are given less opportunity to gain education and access to technology, which is becoming increasingly isolating for those in need of support that is facilitated via a phone or the internet. It’s often underestimated how much technological literacy and access can impact how someone interacts with the world and by working with a “think outside of the box” mentality we are able to address and reduce barriers. The provision of grants, scholarships and mentoring for women seeking involvement in male-dominated industries and platforms is only the first step in addressing technological isolation for women and I look forward to seeing further innovation and change that pushes for equal participation. 

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

While it’s important to recognise, support and celebrate the achievements of women around the world and to call for further change, it’s also important to involve future generations by valuing and promoting this movement to ensure that the hard-won momentum is upheld for many years to come.  

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