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Embracing equity for International Women’s Day

Published on 10 March 2023
  • Community
  • Events

It was wonderful to see members of the community gathering bright and early on Wednesday 8 March for Council’s annual International Women’s Day breakfast at Karralyka.

Each year, Council invites community members to get together in celebration of the contributions women make to their workplaces, families and communities.

This year’s breakfast was attended by members of the community from right across Maroondah, including Anne Hubbard, a Freeman of the City; Dennis Johnston, 2023 Australia Day Citizen of the Year; and Kham Liam, representative for 2023 Australia Day Community Event of the Year, the Chin National Day Festival.

Councillor Rob Steane, Mayor of Maroondah, warmly welcomed everyone to the event and said the breakfast provides “an opportunity for all community members - both men and women - to celebrate this special day”.

Themes and guest speaker - Christine Kennedy

Councillor Tasa Damante, Deputy Mayor of Maroondah, introduced this year’s themes, Embrace Equity and Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender-equal future, and spoke about the importance of equity, which can be achieved through innovation and technology.

“People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging requires equitable action. Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome,” Cr Damante said.

“By ensuring equal access to education for women and girls and creating clear pathways and inclusive workplaces for women in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering, we can leverage the transformative power of inclusive innovation, so critical to cracking the code to gender equality.”

Cr Damante then introduced our guest speaker, Christine Kennedy, who is the General Manager of Total Solar Solutions Australia, a founding member of Australian Women in Solar Energy (AWISE), a mentor to female apprentices and a member of Solar Victoria’s Industry and Consumer Reference Group.

Christine shared her career journey from the law industry to the solar industry, and her work to grow a community that encourages skilled women to be successful through education, capacity building, advocacy, strategic partnerships and networking.

Much of this work started with AWISE, which Christine said was inspired by the shared experience of “amazing women” working in the solar industry who were “not feeling included and not being given a seat at the table to have these important discussions about the future of our renewable energy and economy.”

The founding members of AWISE soon realised that much of this stemmed from the need for diversity, inclusion and equity.

“There’s that saying, ‘equality is giving everyone a shoe, but equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits’. Equity is really not about special treatment, but about breaking down barriers to lift people up,” Christine said.

This, Christine said, includes “looking beyond traditional hiring pools” to have a diverse team and help overcome “unconscious bias”, using inclusive language to create a more welcoming space where people feel included, being “a champion or ally” for those who might need support, and ensuring that “small barriers” do not prevent people from completing their work.

The morning concluded with time for questions and comments from the audience. It was great to hear community members sharing their experiences and engaging in discussion with Christine and each other.

View photos of the event

About International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March each year and is supported globally by industry, governments, educational institutions, community groups, professional associations, women's networks, charities and non-profit bodies, the media and more.

It provides an important moment to showcase commitment to women's equality, launch new initiatives and action, celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness, highlight gender parity gains and more.

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