The first-ever Central Coast Festival of Women, held across several venues to celebrate International Women’s Day, was declared a success.
The festival recognised and celebrated the achievements and contributions of women on the Central Coast and raised awareness of gender issues still present in the community. The theme for the inaugural festival was ‘Press for Progress’. The Gosford RSL hosted the launch of the festival on Friday, March 2. The evening showcased the strong support for woman’s equality on the Central Coast, with many infl uential female leaders coming together to speak at the event. Among those present was Mayor, Jane Smith, Member for Dobell, Ms Emma McBride, Member for Robertson, Ms Lucy Wicks, Member for Gosford, Ms Liesl Tesch and Ms Anne Charlton, Labor’s candidate for Robertson. “There is more that unites us than divides us,” Ms Wicks said. “That is how we are going to press for progress, by focusing on the things that unite us,” she said. Mayor, Jane Smith, spoke about new initiatives being taken up by Central Coast Council to press for progress, including working toward becoming a white ribbon accredited workplace.
“That means a commitment from our leaders to update policies and procedures that will ensure a culture of respect and gender equality at all levels of our organisation,” Mayor Smith said. Ms McBride gave her speaking time to a 15-year-old student, Arabella, who overcame an issue of gender disparity at her school with the help of her local MP. Arabella was moved to tears as she described the feeling of empowerment and gratitude toward Ms McBride. “I was really taken back,” Arabella said. “There’s someone who actually cares. “It was incredible to realise that I had a voice and I could speak up,” she said. Ms Tesch reminded the audience that there is still work to be done, particularly in the area of Indigenous affairs. “I encourage everyone to walk alongside all of our Aboriginal sisters, because in that space, as women, we have a long way to go.”
Other events held as part of the festival included the International Women’s Day Lunch, hosted by the View Club Bateau Bay, at the Entrance Leagues Club, on March 6. The International Women’s Day Forum, hosted by Central Coast Community Women’s Health Centre, took place on March 7, followed by several International Women’s Day Breakfasts. The festival fi nished on Sunday, March 11, with the annual International Women’s Day Breakfast at the Reef Restaurant, The Haven, featuring guest speaker, Ms Joanne McCarthy, a Central Coast resident and Newcastle Herald journalist, whose investigation of child abuse in the Catholic church resulted in her winning the 2013 Gold Walkley Award for excellence in journalism. “I certainly hope this will become an annual tradition that we celebrate with great pride,” Ms Wicks said in concluding her remarks at the festival launch.
Source: Media release, Feb 12 Sally Jope, Central Coast International Women’s Day Organising Committee Event transcripts, Mar 2 Central Coast Festival of Women launch Olivana Smith-Lathouris, Journalist