International Women’s Day 2018: Central Victoria celebrates

INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day celebrations in Bendigo started with a breakfast at Women’s Health Loddon Mallee.

People gathered out the front of the organisation’s Myers Street premises from about 8am.

The tone of the event was celebratory, but a call to action was at its heart.

Women’s Health Loddon Mallee executive officer Tricia Currie said a key aim of the event was to build awareness and understanding of gender equity within the community and to make it a reality.

“We're working towards gender equity because gender equity is a driver to prevent violence against women,” she said.

“Its based in understanding the importance of respecting women for absolutely everything they bring to our communities.”

She said it was important that women, “who have got so much to contribute to the economic bottom line of our society”, were also appreciated within their workplaces and paid fairly.

KEY central Victorian employers highlighted the importance of gender diversity in the workplace as the world celebrated International Women’s Day.

More than half of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s customers are women.

“By creating an inclusive culture for all staff - including for the 61 per cent of women we employ nationally - we are able to better connect and support the communities where we work,” the bank’s chief customer officer, Marnie Baker, said.

“Gender diversity continues to be a key focus for us, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes good business sense.”

Almost 80 per cent of the Bendigo Health workforce are women.

“We support gender parity and provide a safe and inclusive environment for our staff,” a spokesperson said.

La Trobe University rural nursing and midwifery Professor Mandy Kenny encouraged women to challenge the status quo.

“It seems ridiculous in a country like Australia that we have things like gender pay gaps,” she said.

More disappointing was the way people could respond to women’s concerns about economic disadvantage.

Dr Kenny had her baby granddaughter in mind when reflecting on International Women’s Day.

“I would like to think when she grows up she has the right to be paid exactly the same as everyone else and not to be criticised when she does challenge the norm,” she said.

A Loddon Campaspe Centre Against Sexual Assault spokesperson said there was still a long way to go to provide women and families with financially and socially equitable outcomes.

“The Bendigo region has very passionate people within organisations and communities working towards securing the certainty that women and families deserve,” they said. 

“LCCASA is proud to be a committed collaborating partner.”

Promoting leadership opportunities for women has been a priority for human rights organisation ARC Justice, executive officer Hayley Mansfield said.

“We are ensuring parity at a leadership level and successfully increased female representation on our board over the past year,” she said.

She said supporting women experiencing family violence was a strong focus of the organisation’s work in the community.

“Ensuring safety for women is critical to achieving gender parity,” Ms Mansfield said.

“We aim to address the needs of vulnerable community members and provide victims and survivors of family violence with timely legal advice, advocacy and connection to appropriate supports.”