Leave No Woman Behind

International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world on March 8th. The United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is “Leave no woman behind”, examining the vital role that women play in humanitarian and disaster planning and response.
The Rotary Club of Drouin, in recognition of this event, abandoned their regular meeting and gave it over to their Women Rotarians to plan an evening highlighting both Women in Rotary and their own personal journey’s, as well as inviting a woman in our community who held a high profile, demanding and important role, in what has been significantly a male dominated environment, local Council.
In welcoming more than 70 Rotarians, Partners and Guests to the Hong Kong Inn, President David gave the following facts:
 Of 1400 District 9820 Rotarians only about 20% were women.
 Of 7 Assistant District Governors in the District, 4 were women.
 Drouin Club had 8 women Rotarians.
 Sharryn Marshall was the first woman President of the Club in 2016/17.
 That Rotary as an organisation, both world-wide and locally needed to be relevant to the community it sought to serve and to be relevant required a diversity that reflected that community, in gender, in culture and in backgrounds.

Chair for the evening Rotarian Pauline Maunder, made some very significant opening remarks telling the audience that International Women’s Day was not just about parity in pay packets and position, but it was also about women’s health, safety, economic security, to press for success and to provide gender inclusive programs.
She highlighted that 20% of the Australian Liberal Party politicians were women, with 45% of Labour Party being women. However in world-wide figures this ranked Australia just 50th. in the world wedged between the Philippines and Sudan.
Pauline highlighted that on Boards women were significantly under represented, but those boards with a higher representation of women not only had a significantly higher profile and improved economic outcomes, they were also more likely to be able to plan for and engage the person who was actually in the role of major purchaser of goods and services in families.
The Me Too Campaign, recently growing throughout the world was giving voice to women who were asking no more than respect as their first priority in the work place.
She concluded that 100 years ago the movement for gender equity began as a public campaign; it centred on the right to vote and remuneration parity. Whilst some progress has occurred over this time, it has now grown into more and there is so much more that is needed to be done.

As a significant and well received beginning to the evening, five of the Club’s women members told of some of their personal journey through life.
told of the support from family and friends that she received in studying and becoming a teacher however, although not at all long ago, she found on graduating, despite having identical qualifications, she was paid significantly less than males. That married women once pregnant could not continue to work and had to resign on the birth, resulting in loss of superannuation and any accrued benefits, even when returning to the work force.
Rotarian Jane Playdon spoke about the role model she grew up with. A woman who despite having her own 3 children chose to become a foster parent to any number of children of any age. Of how this lady also adopted a number of those children. She spoke of how this taught her compassion, sharing and tolerance. Jane said that thiswoman would only have seen herself as “an ordinary suburban house wife” but in fact was no way near ordinary to Jane, it was her mother.
Immediate Past President Sharryn Marshall told how tackling all sorts of actions regardless of being the first female to do so was never something that prevented her from trying. Her family, in particular he father, challenged her to be the best that she could be and to pursue her ambitions, whether it be the first of her family to go to university and gain a degree, all the way through to becoming the first woman to be President of the Drouin Club. She gained strength in her resolve from women such as her grandmother, who raised children and kept the family going whilst the men were at war. How women on the land would every day take on physical tasks, and become totally involved in the work of the farm, that her role models had shown her the value of strength of character.
Rotarian Anita Coonan, born on the 8th. March, International Women’s Day, spoke of her mother who during the 1930’s wanted desperately to become a teacher but the opportunities for girls in the country not only were restricted but that her family could not afford to pay for further education. Anita told that her determined mother took on the role of a trainee teacher as a young teenager in a local rural school and after hard work and study finally gained her teaching qualification and then on marriage, in 1941, was told she must resign as married women could not continue to teach in permanent employment. This passion was an inspiration to Anita and a motivation for her to enter her own highly successful and highly qualified career in teaching.
Rotarian Shelley Wyatt told that as a young teenage single mother who wanted to pursue a professional career she continually had doors closed on her because of her family. Finally she gained secretarial type work that was not fulfilling in terms of her own ambitions and that again once her pregnancy was obvious to customers she was told she would have to resign. It was strong role models in her family, her grandmother and mother that taught her resilience and that anything was achievable if you persist, which she has done to the stage of owning and operating her own business.
Rotarians Jane, Sharryn, Anita, Pauline and Shelley with President David
Pauline introduced the Chief Executive Officer of Baw Baw Council, Ms. Alison Leighton.
In 2017 Ms. Leighton was named as one of the year’s Top 50 Public Sector Women in Victoria in the inaugural annual awards. She came to Baw Baw from her previous role as Chief Operating Officer at Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.
Alison gained her initial qualification as an engineer at Monash University, a field that was not known for the number of women studying, in fact in her first year there were several women studying engineering, but by graduation she stood there alone as the only female engineering graduate.
However in achieving this, she noted that far from resistance or issues from the male students she received enormous encouragement from them.
During her study she was an expectant single mum to be, and it was this support along with the very strong role models of women in her family, her mother, sisters, aunts and cousins, who had all pursued professional careers that gave her the resilience and preparedness to pursue her objectives in life. She developed a view that anything can be achieved if one works hard and is prepared to see obstacles as something to be overcome and not as blockers.
Alison also acknowledged that along the way, both in engineering and later in local government she was fortunate to have both female and male mentors. They not only continued her learning but provided support and encouragement to achieve her personal goals and to provide the services, to the best of her ability, in the roles that she had been given.
Ms. Leighton highlighted some disturbing statistics, from a Gender Gap Report recently released.

 At the current rate of change it would be 200 years before gender parity was achieved.
 46% of women workers received on average $283 less than males.
 That to earn equivalent pay to men women would need to work an additional 66 days a year.
 On the global index of Gender equality Australia rated 24th.
 A quarter of women reported that they had been sexually harassed in the work place by male colleagues.
 1 in 3 women over 15 years of age had experienced domestic violence and this would result in a cost to the Australian tax payer of $15.6 billion in the year 2021/22.
 Recent figures from 2016 were that 1 woman per week had died at the hands of a partner.
 That women did not have the same superannuation savings as men, no doubt due to interrupted working years and lower pay resulting in poverty levels for many single women retirees.
She also said that it was not just actions or in action of men that perpetuated gender inequality, but sadly there were some women who had “climbed the ladder” to senior executive positions in business and public service and then pulled the ladder up behind them.
Women need to offer themselves as mentors, teachers to younger aspirants, they need to actively seek out women to support and encourage. It is a role that she not only sees for herself, but it is also essential to bring in diversity of thought and action to any organisation which will in the end ensure the health of that organisation.
Alison said that success comes in many forms, along with achievement there is individual confidence, a belief in self, self-esteem, and preparedness to face challenge. A lesson in life that she learnt from many of her supporters, none more so than her father, who instilled in her the belief that whatever she wanted she could do.
She asked people to not just think about gender inequality but to act.
In thanking Alison for her important illustrative presentation of how women could achieve success and the issues that must be addressed by our society, Pauline also noted the women of the Drouin Rotary Club were supported and respected generally in the Club and that Rotary was an avenue for all, in particularly women, to offer their skills in serving the community.
Chair Pauline with Alison Leighton, Cr Jessica O'Donnell and President David
I wondered how I should approach reporting on this meeting, I even wondered if I should do it at all as I was concerned that some may see it as patronising or condescending, perhaps a woman, a former Bulletin Editor might be better (yes Anita you nearly got a call) however when you consider:
 Women and children are 14 times more likely to die or be injured in the wake of a natural disaster? Following the Boxing Day tsunami, a simple lesson shook us all: many girls didn’t know how to climb trees. Boys did. Climbing to safety, more boys survived than did girls. This is only one example of how gendered roles and action can mean the difference between life and death.
 Women’s knowledge and expertise as leaders, planning for and responding to disasters and conflict can help protect and empower women and girls so that they can survive and thrive.
Source: United Nations unwomen.org.au

 While women comprise roughly 46 per cent of all employees in Australia, they take home on average $283.20 less than men each week (full-time adult ordinary time earnings). The national gender “pay gap” is 18.2 per cent and it has remained stuck between 15 per cent and 18 per cent for the past two decades.
 Australian women account for 92 per cent of primary carers for children with disabilities, 70 per cent of primary carers for parents and 52 per cent of primary carers for partners.
 In 2013, Australia was ranked 24th on a global index measuring gender equality, slipping from a high point of 15th in 2006.
 Australian women are over-represented as part-time workers in low-paid industries and in insecure work and continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles in the private and public sectors.
 A quarter of women were sexually harassed in the workplace between 2007 and 2012. The harasser was most likely to be a co-worker (52 per cent) and the most common forms of sexual harassment included sexually suggestive comments/jokes (55 per cent), intrusive questions about private life or appearance (50 per cent) and inappropriate staring or leering (31 per cent).
 In 2014, one in two (49 per cent) mothers reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace at some point during pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work, and one in five (18 per cent) mothers indicated that they were made redundant, restructured, dismissed, or that their contract was not renewed because of their pregnancy, when they requested or took parental leave, or when they returned to work.
 Mothers spend twice as many hours (8 hours and 33 minutes) each week looking after children under 15, compared to fathers (3 hours and 55 minutes).
 In 2009-2010, average superannuation payouts for women were just over half (57%) those of men. Average retirement payouts in 2009-10 were of the order of $198,000 for men and only $112,600 for women. As a result, women are more likely to experience poverty in their retirement years and be far more reliant on the Age Pension.
 One in three Australian women aged 15 years and over has experienced physical violence and nearly one in five has experienced sexual assault. It is estimated that violence against women and children will cost the Australian economy $15.6 billion per year by 2021-2022 unless decisive action is taken to prevent it
 More than smoking or obesity, domestic and family violence is the leading preventable cause of death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44 years

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission

…..... but then because women do not need to change their attitudes and behaviours, it is men who must change if significant change for the benefit of the whole of society is to occur, and
…….. men need to ask themselves in the light of all the statistics, “What do you want for your daughters, granddaughters, nieces and their daughters?” -------- So given these facts I thought a male should write it, so I did!