Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Giving women the opportunities to thrive

  • 09 March 2021
This week as part of International Women’s Day we were asked to challenge gender inequality in our day-to-day lives, to call out discrimination and to demand real change. We were asked to challenge gender biases not just in others, but also in ourselves, because we all play a part in creating and sustaining the cultural norms that influence or limit women’s equality.

As a female CEO of an international development NGO, I see the challenges women face both here and across the world. In our office, I’m proud to say that both men and women rush off to pick up their kids from school, and women are in the rooms where decisions are made at every level of the organisation. Just as we do in our projects internationally, we try to create an environment where expectations aren’t set by gender but rather by interests, talents and passions. This is difficult work, but the onus is on all of us to keep having the hard conversations that allow us to re-imagine a world in which women’s equality is a reality.

Empowering women and girls is also one of the most cost-effective and sustainable ways to promote positive change in a community, whether here in Australia or overseas. When girls are supported to receive an education, they are more able to earn an income for themselves and their family. The children of educated women have better health outcomes, are more likely to go to and stay in school, and are more likely to have access to a diverse range of food. These impacts will last long after development organisations have left.

Over the course of my career I have also seen countless women rise up in their communities and claim their space, despite significant challenges. Through our projects across the world, I am regularly reminded that women have always led and for that matter, will always lead. Whether by founding a local savings group or by setting up small business to support their families, women have always challenged social norms. No matter how great the obstacles and challenges in their way, women will find a way.

Many of the women in our programs are making enormous strides in their communities. In our annual Lenten fundraising appeal, Project Compassion, two women in particular stand out: Oliva from Tanzania and Halima from Myanmar, for their drive not just to challenge gender bias, but to work with other women