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International Women’s Day by Urban Vegas
Sunday 13 March 2022 at Batmans Hill on Collins
What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Kavita Chabra and her team extended an extremely warm welcomed me into a warm and friendly atmosphere. This was greatly enhanced by the substantial canapes, drinks and listening to the wonderful strains of Emma Martin’s violin playing.
The program commenced with a meditation led by Adela Zemanova from Free Meditation - Living Sensually. Adela is also a fashion designer and Feminine energy embodiment practitioner. You can follow her @adela.zemanova for free healing meditation and info about upcoming events.
The meditation segued into a lively panel discussion on how can we break the bias? - the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD). IWD commemorates the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women. It also brings attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.
The panel was chaired by Garry Lee, Australia Day Council New Australian of the Year 2016. Panel members were:
Molina Swarup Asthana – President Elect of the Law Institute of Victoria and diversity advocate.
Mira D Silva – Co Founder of Delivery Centric – An Australian based company – a cyber security firm
Celina Tran – Principal adviser - Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) – and one of the 40 under 40 most influential Asian Australians.
Since the demonstrations and lobbying of the women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s the gender pay gap still exists and needs to be closed. How can we break this bias?
Celia Tran from the VMC stated that there was still a monocultural workplace in Government. How do we break this bias? She felt there is still a journey ahead and we need to strip these barriers. But what are we doing about it? How much of yourself to you bring to work? And there is no way you can leave your personal life at home - so true. Mira said that we needed to support each other.
We see it in Government by the appalling way Julia Gillard, our first female Prime Minister, was treated by her counterparts, and the hesitancy of women on both sides of the House to attempt to step up to this role. It is endemic across workplaces, institutions, and communities. How can we stem the tide of this bias for good? Reference was made to the 1980s when legislation was enacted against sexual harassment in the workplace and women had commenced climbing the corporate ladder. The consensus then was how women could fix themselves to fit in with patriarchal attitudes. The 1990s saw the rise of women onto Boards, but this is not enough.
The bias we need to break is not only the gender pay gap, but also multicultural diversity. Australia as a “white bread” country no longer exists and multiculturalism is now the norm. But still more needs to be done. Unfortunately, racism and patronising attitudes towards immigrants and people of colour still exist in Australia; and there must be more emphasis on diversity and inclusivity towards gender inequities, people of colour, and disability. Women need to engage with men as allies and not to become like them. According to Molina, more seats need to be created at the table for women and those being marginalised. We all can contribute in our small ways to break this bias in our everyday lives to ensure an even playing field. Networking is the way to go by surrounding yourself with those that support and ground you. Rise up out of your comfort zone and meet your unconscious bias head on. But don’t change who you are – the system needs to change. Together we can do it. You don’t need to do this alone.
Festivities continued with a fashion parade and prizes were awarded for beautiful outfits, in the themed colours of pink, purple, lavender. There was also music and Brazilian dancing by Natalia from Colombia.
Congratulations must go to the Emcee of the day Minnie Dhillön, a young lawyer who performed her role with grace, dignity and confidence.
My thanks go Kavita Chabra and Urban Vegas for their hospitality.
images below: Robert Wilson of Angelite Photography
special thanks: Kavita Chabra