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Sell-out crowd at West Gippsland Art Centre celebrates International Women's Day in Baw Baw Shire
A sell-out crowd descended on the West Gippsland Art Centre on Tuesday 8 March to celebrate International Women's Day 2022.
The joint event, delivered by Baw Baw Shire Council in partnership with Women in Gippsland, focussed on reconnection and inspiring Gippsland women to follow their own path after another challenging year that has hit women particularly hard. International Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women while calling for gender equity and an end to gender-based discrimination and violence.
The Make Up Hub of Gippsland provided the glitz and glam to attendees before the show commenced
Pursuing different passions
Before hearing from keynote speaker Em Rusciano, the 750 strong crowd turned the West Gippsland Art Centre forecourt into a festival of fun by sharing stories, dancing, singing, and enjoying food and market stalls from local producers and community organisations.
Rusciano, a best-selling author, comedian, singer, and award-winning podcaster told the story of her ups and downs in the media industry, becoming a parent, and her struggles with her mental health throughout her life.
The key theme of her address was how Em has trusted her gut and backed herself to pursue different passions throughout her life, and encouraged women everywhere to do the same.
Believing in one's self
Rusciano said as she ended her keynote address to the captivated crowd, "You only need to believe you can do it 1% more than you believe you can't". Although it was her first on stage performance in years, Rusciano delivered with her trademark flair.
Her off-script adventures to chat with crowd members, some light hurdling - a throwback to her days as an international level athlete in her teens - and humour lead to uncountable laughs before she ended her night with a Q&A session.
Rusciano didn't disappoint, delivering an inspiring performance with her trademark flair
Following Rusciano's dynamic performance, Women in Gippsland committee member, Leah Mether, encouraged the crowd to use their voices to make change and help break the cycle of discrimination that sees women on average paid 14.2% less than male counterparts and rates of domestic violence continue to rise. Mether cited Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins, and Chanel Contos as examples of women who have used their voices as individuals to create widespread awareness and change.
To put an exclamation mark on a night of highlights, Gippsland artist and event MC Mel Pollard gave the crowd a stellar rendition of Helen Reddy's 'I am Woman', which has become an anthem for the annual event. All proceeds from the event go to not-for-profit Women in Gippsland to continue its event and advocacy work.
Need for change
Mayor Michael Leaney said, "I know firsthand the need for change and encourage everyone to use their voice to help put an end to gender bias, stereotypes and discrimination.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this fantastic event and celebrate International Women's Day with our community due to COVID isolation, but I've heard it was a great night out with many highly valued conversions and fun for all in attendance."Mr Leaney said.
Baw Baw Shire Council Director Planning and Development, Leanne Hurst, Carrie Dupe, Baw Baw Shire Council CEO, Mark Dupe and Deputy Mayor Councillor Annemarie McCabe enjoying the forecourt festivities
Partnership with Gippsland women
Deputy Mayor Annemarie McCabe said, "It was a great privilege to open this inspirational event and play a part in celebrating the tremendous efforts of women and girls who are working to put an end to gender inequality."
"Em Rusciano's story resonates with so many of us, and I hope that her message inspires women and girls everywhere to trust themselves and pursue their dreams." McCabe said.
Cr Jazmin Tauru said, "International Women's Day is always a fantastic event, and I am proud that as an organisation, council is able to partner with Women in Gippsland and provide this opportunity for our community to come together and celebrate, empower and inspire women and girls to be change makers."
Event organisers Baw Baw Shire Council and Women in Gippsland celebrate the third International Women's Day event delivered in partnership by the two organisations
Cr Peter Kostos said, "Everyone has a role to play in ending discrimination against women and events like International Women's Day are a great platform to raise awareness and advance the cause, as we strive to achieve equal pay and equal rights for all.
"It was a fun-filled evening and I'd like to thank all involved in pulling it together. I have no doubt everyone left the West Gippsland Art Centre inspired, I know I did." Cr Kostos said.
Leah Mether, Women in Gippsland Committee Member said, "This year's International Women's Day theme was to break the bias and we call on all people across Gippsland to use their voices to help us do just that."
"Call out gender discrimination, bias, stereotyping and put downs when you see them in your personal and professional life. Amplify the voices of female, non-binary, First Nations and minority groups. Teach your kids there's no such thing as boy or girl colours, clothes, toys or jobs."
"Email your federal, state, and local politicians and tell them enough is enough and it's time to address the gender pay gap, family violence and the under representation of women in public place names in a more tangible and powerful way. Whatever you do, don't discount the power of your voice. Your voice does matter, and it needs to be heard." Ms Mether concluded. For enquiries, please contact Leah on 0409 938 277
Pictures from Baw Baw Shire Council website.
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