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A big day for women

Wednesday, 9th March, 2011

WOMAN POWER: Celebrating International Women’s Day were Mira Knezevic, Millie Alagich, Nancy Keenan and Gerda van den Munckhof. WOMAN POWER: Celebrating International Women’s Day were Mira Knezevic, Millie Alagich, Nancy Keenan and Gerda van den Munckhof.

By Gina Wilson

About 70 people attended the centennial International Women's Day breakfast in the city yesterday.

Brian Tonkin entertained the group, which encompassed the spectrum of ages and genders, with a poem 'Fight for Justice' about a single mother who took on the unions and won: "Lady why don't you go and fight on the western front" she was told when trying to get work as a cook to feed her children.

The poem ended with the line she "just wanted to enjoy her life, not take the unions on".

Guest speaker Deb Jones told of the importance of education and health while Dr Biljana Trask, who has called Australia home for 10 years, spoke of her childhood in the former Yugoslavia.

Local singer Anna Dennis sang two songs and played the guitar which she had been learning for just two months.

After the breakfast about 20 people joined another 1100 women across Australia on a 'webinar', a web-based seminar.

Women and men from Kununurra, Orange, Narromine, Boulia, and all places in between, joined in to hear journalist Geraldine Doogue talk about women's issues, having a career while raising four children, and about making every opportunity count.

She answered questions, saying she would not know what to do with a mother who said there was no place for women in public life.

"I profoundly disagree ... and would most profoundly beg to differ."

She said it was probably more about the mother's fears for her child.

"Fear for them; fear of failure, desperately not wanting them to be bruised and bloodied ..."

Ms Doogue also reminded people to follow their dreams and quoted the Central Coast Chamber of Commerce which had said "opportunity doesn't come at a convenient time".

Year 10 Willyama High School student Codie Whitehead, who is a Student Representative Council representative, said the webinar had been very informative.

"A great experience. It opens my eyes to hear other rural women's stories," she said.

"I don't believe being rural has any affect. If you have enough will to do something you can achieve anything."

The 15-year-old said she had not chosen a career but that university was very important.

"(I want to) follow a career in forensics, law or physiotherapy. I'm still undecided," she said.

"I believe education is a fundamental to any career choice but in my case, yes, it is a must to receive the right education."

She said she thought being a girl might make her road harder but that it would also make her stronger.

"But in situations like that, you have to ignore and push through it. It will just make you a stronger person."

Codie said it must have been difficult for women, even in 1981, to have to give up their jobs after they married.

"I can imagine what they may have felt and it must have been a difficult circumstance to live in, not being able to express their opinions and ideas," she said.

"However from women in those eras we have now become who we are today. We still have further to go (including) the elimination of sexism in workplaces and potentially lower the level of violence against women."

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