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INTERNATIONAL  WOMEN’S  DAY 2014 ”  Inspiring Change”

 Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8.  The first IWD was held 103 years ago, in 1911.

One hundred years ago women such as Emmeline Pankhurst were advocating suffrage for both married and unmarried women.   We can be proud that Australia was the first country to allow women to stand in elections although it should be noted that women were not successful at a federal election until 1943.

There is still a lot of work to be done to encourage women to “break through the glass ceiling” in the political and corporate arenas, here in Australia and worldwide.  Women such as Golda Meir*, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Madeleine Albright*,  Julia Gillard, Bronwen Bishop, Julie Bishop, Christine Lagarde, Hillary Clinton and Janet Yellen* (*Jewish women)  By their achievements, they have all encouraged women around the world to be pro-active in world affairs.

Of course, there have been, and continue to be, remarkable women who work at grass-roots level to improve women’s situations everywhere.   Some notable Victorian Jewish names are Sylvia Gelman AM MBE  (renowned teacher – Mount Scopus Memorial College – member of the Victorian Honour Roll of Women 2012 and recipient in 2011 of the JCCV’s Sir John Monash Award), Nina Bassat AM (current President of the JCCV and formerly President of the ECAJ, Joan Rosanove  QC (first woman to sign the Victorian Bar roll and passionate advocate for the rights of women lawyers)  and WIZO’s Ann Zablud OAM – President of WIZO Victoria (1968-1974) and President of WIZO Australia (1992-1998)   In 1987 Ann was elected Chairperson of the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies (forerunner of the JCCV), Victorian State President of the State Zionist Council and in 1995 she became the first woman to head a federal organization, the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA)  She was the recipient of the JCCV’s Sir John Monash Award in 2007.

In the 21st Century we are fortunate to have a “vast array of communication channels, supportive research, campaigns and corporate responsibility initiatives (which) mean that everyone can be an advocate inspiring change for women’s advancement”   Inspiring Change is the 2014 theme for International Women’s Day global hub (which) “encourages advocacy for women’s advancement everywhere in every way.  It calls for challenging the status quo for women’s equality and vigilance inspiring positive change”(direct quotes from International Women’s Day 2014 website)

Caroline Heard President WIZO Masada

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