International Women's Day in Merimbula | Photos

An emotional and powerful day unfolded at Rotary’s International Women’s Day Event at Club Sapphire, March 8.

Chairperson of the IWD Committee Sue Jellis welcomed everyone to the event with a few words on gender parity and the nation wide theme “press for progress.”

She praised Rotary for organising the event as well as their ongoing support to both local and international projects involving women and girls.

Sixteen-year-old Ruby Newell and Reiko Healy of Bega performed a two person ensemble as part of Stonewave Taiko. 

Last year, Rotary’s IWD event proceeds supported Ms Newell who went on to build confidence and develop skills over an extended weekend with Taik Oz in Sydney.

MC Michelle Pettigrove announced that all proceeds of the event are to be donated to the Disability Trust School Leaver Employment Support program. Community Connections Coordinator at the Disability Trust Margaret Biggs was honoured to address the crowd.

“We hope to purchase new iPads because as most of you all know when applying for a job nowadays or even to volunteer you do so online,” she said.

“Those kinds of technical skills need to be developed with our young people as individuals as they come together or work separately with our very capable staff to achieve the best and most inclusive life possible here in the beautiful Bega Valley.”

Ms Biggs later gave some examples of kindness she had demonstrated in her life and said “if you have, you should give.” Hoping that others will take the time away from their busy schedules and be inspired to stop and make a change in their life and others.

Pambula Beach resident Libby Weir was the second guest speaker who delivered an emotionally charged presentation.

The room was near absent of dry eyes as she shared some of her experiences working with South African women and children in KwaZulu Natal.

Ms Weir spends three months each year visiting villages of the province to distribute donated clothes, to influence women and help them gain employment opportunities.

“I am amazed by their relentless poverty and deprivation and their ability to smile everyday,” she said.

“Many people don’t have a sense of entitlement, they just need an opportunity to give them a sense that their life has meaning and that their future has hope.”

In the past, Rotary has funded Ms Weirs voluntary work, helping to purchase fabric for aspiring seamstresses.

Handmade bags from the Women of KwaZulu Natal were available for purchase throughout the day. Ms Weir reinvests the money back into the village. 

Lunch was served before Rotary’s Woman of the year, Alison Jenkins was announced for her outstanding service in the community.