International Women’s Day: Actually, I can

Today is International Women’s Day – a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

International Women’s Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first​ ​IWD gathering occurring in 1911, supported by over a million people across Europe. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere, and is not country, group or organisation specific.​

This year’s campaign theme is ‘a balanced world is a better world’ – #BalanceforBetter. The theme focusses on celebrating women’s achievements, helping to forge a more gender-balanced world, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.

In celebration of IWD, we asked staff members across Northern Health about a strong female who has inspired or influenced them in their lives. Here’s what they had to say!

Sharryn Beard, Partnerships Management Officer

All my thoughts of inspirational women come back to my mum, Heather. She was a single parent and she managed to put me through school and worked full-time, and she was always there. I admire what she achieved, as she was in a high management position and did all that on her own. At an early age, she went to school on her own, being from the county, and over time developed her resilience and learned to be self-reliant.

Cindy Joffe, Divisional Director – Emergency Services, ICU and Cardiology

In relation to work – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Jacinda has navigated the male-dominated world of politics with poise and grace, and always models the behaviours she advocates for. Wearing ‘two hats’ as both a mother and a leader should not be underestimated.

In my personal life – my mum for raising three kids as a single mum. We all grew up to be strong, independent and successful women. Although my mum won’t say she gave up anything, I will always appreciate how I never doubted that she would drop everything to come and support me.

Sneza Filiposki, Project Support Officer, Strengthening Hospital Response to Family Violence

The woman who inspires me has turned her pain and struggles into strength. She had experienced an unimaginable loss, the death of her son, due to family violence. She is now an advocate for family violence, empowering women all over the world to take a stand and say “enough is enough – I have the right for freedom and to feel safe.”

This message is important in a world where patriarchy has been central to our human existence. Thanks to Rosie and other victims/survivors who have stood up against power and control, we can change the story so we can all live a life free from violence and fear.

Roslyn Payne, Director of Nursing and Midwifery

To me, International Women’s Day is about recognising the opportunities for women and gender equality. It’s about raising the profile and telling young women – you can do and be whatever you want – and the most inspirational woman in my life is…my mum!

Yvonne Amos, Northern Health Foundation Director 

Early in my career, I worked side by side with the Sisters of Charity in Sydney, raising funds and promoting outreach services to the local community. Sister Clare Nolan, at the time, led the Outreach Service and was an incredibly charismatic, passionate and focussed woman, whose commitment to those less fortunate and to her religious life were unshakeable, regardless of the obstacles in front of her.

At the time, with seemingly apparent ease, she could convince those in the business community to fund her work – generating an army of supporters and volunteers in her wake. She was a force to be reckoned with and often, this is why I loved working alongside her.  She taught me many things but above all her legacy to me was always be kind, compassionate and if you want to create change – find your voice, be the change, make it happen. Fast forward to today, and she is now the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Charity and working as hard as ever for her community.

Stefania Zen, Cultural Liaison Officer 

The first person who comes to mind is my mum, Angelina. I am from Italy and my mum grew up in a small town in the north of Italy. Her parents ran a bakery business and were very hardworking. My mum started working when she was just over three years old, helping with the bread deliveries riding her tricycle.

She got married young and had four children but was able to run the household as well as working full-time. Later on in her life, she re-invented herself and started her own business. She has taught me to be resilient and to seize opportunities when they come.

(Featured Image: Sharryn Beard and Roslyn Payne)