2019 Pittwater Women of the Year: The Zonta Club Northern Beaches
In announcing the Zonta Club of Northern Beaches as those whose work was to be honoured this year, MP for Pittwater Rob Stokes mentioned Maybanke Anderson as one of our earliest advocates for the rights of women, including the right to vote, to divorce, to earn a living, to speak up and out for others.
Her work has been carried on the the volunteers of Zonta NB through a range of activities aimed at supporting women locally as well as further afield. They run as our Profile of the Week this Issue so you may read up on what they do and are doing, especially as this year is the 100th anniversary of Zonta. November 8th, 2019 marks Zonta’s centennial anniversary. Visit: https://zonta100.org/
From the Office of Rob Stokes;
2019 Pittwater Woman of the Year
March 6th, 2019
Volunteer members of the Zonta Club of Northern Beaches were today acknowledged as the first ever joint-recipients of the Pittwater Woman of the Year award.
The annual award, which recognises the outstanding achievements and contributions of local women, was accepted on the group’s behalf by Club President Bernardine Guy.
“This is one of the most energetic, passionate and effective volunteer groups in our community,” Rob Stokes said today.
“With the loyal assistance of countless supporters throughout our community – the group has been able to directly assist women in our local area, as well as in remote corners of the world.
“There’s no time wasting or hidden agendas with this group – they simply raise funds, raise awareness and provide support.
“The work they do to fund, prepare and dispatch birthing kits to women in developing countries is not only inspiring – it’s also a powerful way of connecting communities at opposite sides of the world.
“This award is a great way to acknowledge their inspirational efforts and the positive messages they spread throughout our community,” Rob Stokes said.
Current President of Zonta Northern Beaches, Bernardine Guy, gave the following response to Mr. Stokes' announcement:
International Women’s Day
To the Hon Mr Rob Stokes, thank you for this wonderful acknowledgement of “Pittwater Woman of the Year” award, by honouring the service and work that ZCNB does in our local community. I humbly accept this award as President of our Club on behalf of each member.
Zonta International this year celebrates 100 years, and Zonta Club of the Northern Beaches have been part of that community for almost 45 years. Our membership of 28 combined has volunteer experience of over 300 years, with some of our members giving in excess of 20, 25, and 40 years of service. We are professional women, with families, some retired, others working, young and not so. But together we believe in the principles of Zonta ‘Gender equality for all and a world where no women should live in fear of violence.’
Today we are here on IWD to celebrate women’s social, economic and political achievements and to call for gender equality.
International Women’s Day began in 1911 a result of the upsurge of the suffragette movement in Austria, Denmark and Germany, when over 1 million women took to the streets demanding equal rights and the right to vote. IWD was adopted by the UN in 1975.
Each year IWD has a theme and the theme for IWD here in Australia 2019 is “Balance for Better” representing a call to stand in unison for gender equality.
(The following are statistics from Australian Human Rights Commission):
Women and girls make up just over half 50.7% of the Australian population, and women comprise roughly 47% of all employees in Australia, they take home approximately $250 less than men each week. Over a lifetime in work this equates to many Hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost potential wages and more importantly Superannuation. The long-term outcome of this is that more women will live in poverty after retirement. We are now seeing more women in the over 55 age group of women, experiencing homelessness with this growing annually.
The barriers to gender equality are many, some being that women tend to work in female dominated industries where the wages are lower such as child care, nursing and aged care. These professions are undervalued. On top of this women spend 64% of their working week doing unpaid care work.
Another frightening statistic is that more than 1 in 3 has experienced sexual or physical violence in their life and 1 in 2 will experience sexual harassment. As a mother of 3 daughters, and 3 granddaughters this statistic is horrific. DV is the major driver of homelessness for women. Every year in Australia 80 – 100 women are killed by a male partner.
So where does Zonta Club of the Northern Beaches work? We support the Women’s Shelter and the Women & Children’s Refuge on the peninsula providing new kitchen equipment for each woman. We provide study grants for the women to upskill. Many times, each week we receive requests for help by the support agencies for women leaving DV situations. The biggest need however is emergency accommodation, it is not good enough that when rescued from a DV situation late last year all the Police could provide for accommodation was a cell for a mother and her children. We need some hard work and lots of money to obtain emergency housing that can be used for these regular situations. As the Co Ordinator of one of the refuges said to us recently ‘when we receive a request it is NOW!’
Our school student grants are to encourage and keep at school Girls who may have left school early due to family situations through unemployment, ill health, and sometimes death of a parent.
Although these are only highlighting some of our work locally as a Zontian I can say these are some very rewarding opportunities to help where it is really needed. As an individual I could not do this work on my own and have any impact, but being part of a larger group every one of us working together it has Power with results. To the women and girls, we provide assistance to, they know that in the Community are a group of women willing them and supporting them to succeed. As a group our reward is receiving a letter of thanks saying how much we helped them on their new journey, and knowing someone cared.
As a Community, men and women we need to encourage inclusiveness, equality in all things, stop and speak out when we see a wrong whether in the home, work place or school and lead by example. It is forecast that it will take over 100 years before the gender gap will be equal, lets work together to make this much sooner.
You will notice that each one of us received a yellow rose, this was not by chance, The Yellow Rose is Zonta’s floral emblem, and Zonta Rose day is celebrated on the 8th March each year. I would like to finish with a little information as to why it is our symbol.
The yellow Zonta rose is our floral emblem, symbolising peace. As diamonds are the most precious of stones the rose is the Queen of flowers.
Our Zonta colours are gold and mahogany, just as the petals and branches of the yellow rose.
But what is the significance of the Rose to our organisation?
Foundation of Zonta, objectives, mission statement and history.
Strong well defined organisational structure, with united ability, to advance the status of women.
Many clubs, many countries moving in one direction.
Personal and organisational growth and prosperity.
Links between clubs and members internationally.
Diversity in membership worldwide.
nurturing of valuable new members mission of service.
Zontian friends who have contributed to the work of Zonta with their fellowship and service.
Intertwined golden principles of Zonta - honest and trustworthy.
The service Zontians provide to their communities worldwide.
Thank you again for this wonderful award and recognition in our community and receiving this in such a significant year for Zonta!
The International Women's Day 2019 campaign theme of 'Balance for Better' is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world.
Balance is not a women's issue, it's a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage ...
The first International Women's Day occurred in 1911, supported by over one million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere, it is not country, group or organisation specific.
Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."
As you can see in some of Michael Mannington's photographs, 'Balance for Better' formed a key theme of this year's Zonta NB IWD breakfast celebrations.
Above: Guest speaker Di Westaway from Wild Women On Top gave a fantastic motivational and inspiring talk to the 210 guests. Pictured with (left to right) Danni Sloper, Di, and former Pittwater Women of the Year, Deborah Hendy, President of Pittwater RSL Sub-branch and Tamara Sloper-Harding OAM, Vice President Avalon Beach RSL Sub-branch.