Five young women from across the Bega Valley have been awarded International Women’s Day scholarships from the Bega Valley Shire Council.
The scholarships were awarded to support their work with the community and to enable them to achieve their goals and aspirations.
Brianna Larkham and Gab Green from Merimbula, Indigo Walker and Leesa Chen from Bega and Eliza Bell from Wolumla were awarded the $500 scholarships acknowledging their contributions to the community and their future plans.
Founder of Topsy-turvy Intimates, Indigo Walker, has been designing and manufacturing underwear for women that celebrates a range of body shapes and the diversity of women within the community.
Ms Walker said that although making underwear may appear as though she is “not doing anything meaningful for the world”, she hopes to empower women through her work, particularly those women who do not fit traditional notions of female attractiveness.
“I was seeing women who did not feel attractive and women that weren’t being represented and I wanted to bring them to the forefront.”
With the scholarship money, Ms Walker hopes to run a half-day underwear making workshop so other women can also learn how to be creative with their underwear.
“The scholarships means that I have a certain aspect of financial security but also the ability to expand and try different designs.”
Boilermaker and forest fire fighter Brianna Larkham was inspired to apply for the scholarship to highlight gender equality.
“I wanted to apply so that I could inspire other local young people to pursue whatever career they want, they don’t have to stick to gender norms. There are opportunities out there and no need to be stereotyped, you just have to apply and commit yourself,” she said.
The 23-year-old of Pambula began her boiler making trade aged-21. She discontinued her studies in Architecture to “try some thing more hands on”, she said.
“I really like it! I have helped build massive dehydrators as well as structural fabrications, like beams for houses and construction sites.”
“There is a lot of sexism in the area although I think there are a lot of employers and a lot of people out there that are willing to employ women and give them a go,” Ms Larkham said.
After completing her apprenticeship she now has her sights set on becoming a Paramedic, using the scholarship to fund her travel expenses for practical work in Queensland as well as textbooks.