The City of Yarra celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) by holding its annual Inspirational Women of Yarra morning tea and award ceremony at Richmond Town Hall.
This year’s IWD theme was ‘Be bold for change’, and 17 women were awarded for their contributions to the Yarra community.
The awards were presented by Yarra Mayor, Councillor Amanda Stone, who highlighted the importance of International Women’s Day by stating that women have “such a long way to go when there is so much push-back against an idea like changing pedestrian crossing lights to reflect gender balance.”
The award recipients came from fields as varied as science, childcare, climate advocacy and women in sport. There was even a team nomination – school dental program, Chompers – which treats disadvantaged children for preventable dental diseases.
Students from Melbourne Girls’ College were also in attendance to support their own nominee, Amanda Lucas, for her work as an outdoor education teacher.
The morning tea was presented entirely by women, with Wurundjeri woman Georgina Nicholson opening the ceremony with a traditional Welcome to Country, and senior council staff MC-ing the event.
The keynote speaker was Stephanie Woollard, who founded a not-for-profit organisation after a trip to Nepal, where she met seven disabled women in a shed making candles and soaps that they were trying to sell at their local market.
After a phone call to consult with her mother, Ms Woollard immediately invested $200 to support the women to be also trained in knitting, selling the fair-trade products through her university back in Melbourne, and the organisation Seven Women was born.
The organisation has since expanded to include a literacy school for other disadvantaged women, a cooking school where visitors can learn authentic Nepalese cooking, and a tourism program.
Ms Woollard said women in Nepal who are disabled, widowed, or single mothers face enormous discrimination, but that education and income make all the difference to them.
Sharing her views on making an impact, Ms Woollard told the crowded room that “every one of us can make a difference, whether in the workplace or as (our choices as) consumers.”
Nominations were reviewed by a selection panel made up of council and community representatives and the award was open to all women who live, work, or study in Yarra.
Written by JessieAnne Gartlan