I AM reliably informed that Bathurst Regional Council plans to hold an evening event in Machattie Park on Friday, March 8 - International Women’s Day.
There will be music, refreshments and information stalls in the park from 5pm. I understand there won’t be a guest speaker or a particular time to attend, but it will a drop-in event and council hopes to encourage business women to come after work.
Council will also livestream the All About Women festival from Sydney Opera House to BMEC on Sunday, March 10.
In 2017, an inspirational International Women’s Day event was held by council at Panthers. Why Panthers? Because I understand council forgot to book BMEC immediately following its very successful and inclusive event there in 2016, and BMEC was thus booked out because IWD coincided with Seniors’ Week.
The Panthers event included stalls in which various not-for-profits, businesses and professional women were present, year 11 and 12 girls queuing to discuss careers in these professions.
Year five and six girls and boys were present. The schools were engaged: a critical aspect of this important day, if attitudes are to change. Council convened a committee of women from diverse backgrounds which operated with success.
However, in 2018, the great rot set in. Council held a morning tea at the Neighbourhood Centre, hosted by mayor Graeme Hanger, with Andrew Gee MP present, and livestreamed All About Women, “a preeminent festival on gender”, from Sydney Opera House.
This event was largely attended by a cohort of senior women, likely the feminists of the 60s and 70s, together with a lesser number of younger women, including representatives from CSU and a handful of supportive men, including young men whose presence gladdened many a heart.
So high a priority is International Women’s Day for Bathurst Regional Council that as of the writing of this, council’s proposed International Women’s Day commemorations did not rate a mention on its Events page nor its BRC News Bites Jan – Mar, the back page of which lists What’s On Bathurst.
That International Women’s Day as a comprehensive schools and across genders inclusive event, with female and male keynote speakers, is not set in concrete in council’s calendar but haphazardly organised year by year, with little thought to the wider issues, is an indictment of council.
Linda Burney would be an excellent candidate for a keynote speaker. After all, it took until 2016 for the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives, when Linda won the federal seat of Barton in the 2016 federal election. Relevantly, she was also the first Aboriginal graduate from the Mitchell College of Advanced Education Bathurst (now Charles Sturt University) where she obtained a Diploma of Teaching.
Here in Bathurst, it has been disappointing to return to my home town, after decades of living and working in Sydney and Melbourne, striving to better the lives of women and girls, to see the seeming lack of understanding of the need to honour International Women’s Day.
It is not some newfangled concept organised by women hell-bent on stirring the possum and whingeing about their lot in life: the earliest observance was held on February 28, 1909 in New York and it has been commemorated annually in many countries worldwide since.
On March 8, 2011, the recognised 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, events took place in more than 100 countries. Here in Australia we minted a 100th anniversary commemorative 20-cent coin.
Education is the absolute key to changing the culture of women’s continued under-representation in key aspects of our society, their continued subjection to stereotyping and lack of pay equity and continued financial dependence, all of which, research shows, is a key cause of domestic violence.
In an environment where, on average, one woman dies a week in Australia at the hands of their spouse, and Chifley Command and Bathurst Base Hospital are run off their feet with family violence incidences, surely it is a no-brainer for Bathurst Regional Council to go above and beyond to involve not just the few but all in Bathurst’s International Women’s Day celebrations.
It is not just about women and girls needing education about the key issues, it is also about engaging men and boys.