- 12 March 2021
To celebrate International Women’s Day and this year’s theme, #choosetochallenge, Regional Development Australia Southern Inland (RDA Southern Inland) hosted a lunch and panel discussion in Bungendore.
The event was held at local French restaurant, Le Tres Bon. Prior to lunch, a dynamic panel discussion was hosted by RDA Southern Inland CEO, Carisa Wells, consisting of five impressive regional leaders; Kristy McBain MP, member for Eden-Monaro, Sarah McDougall, Lake George Winery, Suzanne Gearing, Braidwood Chamber, Rowena Abbey, RDASI Chair, and Jacquelyn Richards, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC).
Kristy McBain emphasised the impact her upbringing and parents had on her success and her belief that she could do anything she wanted to do. Her mantra? Make a goal, work hard towards it, challenge perceived norms and those around you. Kristy had a 2.5-year-old and a 3 month old when she was elected to Bega Valley Shire Council, deciding to run to represent young females in the region.
“I get very riled up when people tell me I can’t do things…whenever anyone says that, it’s like a red rag to a bull.”
Kristy also spoke about the importance of including men in the conversation about gender parity and equality.
“Change comes when men are part of the discussion…we need to encourage them to be a part of the conversation.”
Rowena Abbey, the new Chair of RDASI, echoed Kristy’s comments.
“My mentors were actually men, they were gracious, supportive, they stood up for me… It’s not all about us, we have to bring the men with us.”
There was plenty of positive discussion throughout the forum, with Jacquelyn Richards, Portfolio General Manager at QPRC, discussing the influence that senior women can have on young women in their careers.
“Once you get to be the woman in the room with authority, make way for the others,” said Jacquelyn.
A broad range of topics and issues were covered in a short time, ranging from childcare to the ‘unentitled mindset’ of females to the word ‘feminism’.
Following the panel discussion, guests sat down to a traditional French themed lunch of duck and pear tart. Attendees travelled from Braidwood, Queanbeyan, the Southern Highlands, Goulburn, Yass and Bungendore to attend the sold out event.
Carisa Wells was extremely pleased with the event.
“The energy in the room was so positive. We are a small office of three women and our Chair and Deputy Chair are both females, so it was really important to us to celebrate this day and contribute to such an important conversation.”
International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.