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International Women's Day - Michelle Farrar-Eagles

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8/03/2013

IWD3What a day to finish the week on and more amazingly what a great group of women to have all in one room!

It’s always lovely to be invited to breakfasts, but as most of us know, with time being one of the more precious commodities these days (esp for me with an 18 month old), breakfasts are definitely a little harder to get to, so thanks to an amazing Mum (taking the little dude last night (there was no way I could have battled the morning routine and be at Chatswood by 7.30am) I managed to get to the Willoughby City Council International Women’s Day breakfast on The Concourse and so glad I did!

International Women’s Day was first conceptualized in 1908 in NY (of course) by the women’s garment makers who decided it was time to speak up about their working conditions and pay – simply they wanted better rights at work and equal pay for the same work they did that the men did.

20 years later, it was celebrated in Sydney in 1928. The day provides an opportunity for communities to recognise the achievements of women, their contribution to our communities and progress for women - both in Australia and around the world.

At our breakfast on The Concourse this morning, we were fortunate to have one of the most wonderful woman (that I personally quite admire) as the guest speaker, Jane Caro.

Jane Caro, a wife, mum, social commentator, writer, advertising exec, lecturer, inspirational woman, natural born stirrer (I could go on and on with the hats she wears) spoke to us about the impact of social media particularly on women. “Social Media has created a platform for women to talk about their lives, share experiences”. “ It enables women to express the reality of their lives without being “shut down””.

Our lives are about life and by sharing our experiences it can mean that women can start to relate more to one another, to know they are not alone about thinking or feeling particular things is quite important. Let’s face it, many of our lives are actually quite different to that of our partners or husbands and perhaps not everyone is fortunate enough to have a great group of girlfriends, so social media has given us the opportunity to do that, unmediated!

Before Jane actually started speaking, I mentioned to our table, that it was actually after watching Jane on Sunrise one morning that I toughened up and registered two twitter accounts (one for each of my businesses). Whilst I knew all about twitter, what it was, I was hesitant to get involved and whilst I am semi active am definitely not on top of “what’s trending”.

This morning at the breakfast, Jane again mentioned the impact and power social media is having for women. She was telling us about how on 31st August, she was watching a discussion between Alan Jones and the ever controversial Barney Joyce. They were talking about the money Julia Gillard had donated to Pacific Islanders to help fund leadership programs for women, as it has been proven that when women are in leadership positions in Pacific Islander communities, domestic violence decreases. Mr Jones and Joyce said that Ms Gillard should by put in to a chaft bag and taken out to sea for “destroying the joint”. Now I don’t want to get into a debate about female leaders, I have worked with some great female leaders, that lead, not take advice from focus groups (haha) but the story continues….Jane was sitting at home quietly on a Friday night and tweeted about the mens' comments and said “Ideas welcome”. Now Jane wasn’t quite on the ball to #destroy the joint, but one of her followers was and within an hour a national #destroythejoint movement was born!

“It was incredible” said Jane. “It proved that social media has given us the opportunity to band together in a way we've never had before”.

If I think about it, the fact that I am right now, able to sit here and write about the morning and within a few minutes of me finishing this blog (and SEOing the correct words), it could potentially be seen by any amount of women around the world – that’s pretty powerful!

During Q and A time at the end of Jane’s speech, one of the LOL’s in the room expressed the impact social media has had on ageism.  When she referred to herself as a LOL, I thought oh your poor dear, you’re confused - thinking it meant (laugh out loud) – wrong Michelle, to her LOL was – “little old lady”, Nice! Sterotypically she said, society and MSM (mainstream media) do not assume LOL’s have access to or are interested in social media, but that it has certainly given her a new opportunity to be heard.

This morning also made me reflect upon the countries I have travelled to, NFP organisations I work with where many women in the world not as fortunate as I am. I grew up with two great parents, who instilled great morals and values into me, with a roof over my head. I have a great education and was exposed to a wide variety of aspects of life – again much of which I probably took for granted growing up but now realise how they have held me in great stead and given me the confidence to go forth and achieve.

I could go on and on about the morning and could have easily sat there for a little longer listening to the many women asking questions of Jane and Jane’s well constructed, natural yet thought provoking responses, but will leave you with the thought we left the morning on - “ Don’t let anyone define who you are, you define you!”

Happy International Women’s Day!

IWD3

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