Belly dancer Tatiana appealed to the goddess in us all at the IWD lunch at Tandoor Palace in Byron Bay.
Belly dancer Tatiana appealed to the goddess in us all at the IWD lunch at Tandoor Palace in Byron Bay. Sue Cram

Equality still an issue for women

IF YOU lived in Uzbekistan yesterday you would have had a public holiday to celebrate International Women’s Day.

But on the North Coast it was left to about 150 women to toast the day at functions in Lismore and Byron.

And at the Byron lunch belly dancers helped celebrations along.

For the first time North Coast women marked the day, which honours women’s achievements, with a female Governor-General, Deputy Prime Minister, State Premier and two North Coast Federal MPs in power.

But the message from the speakers at the IWD lunch at Southern Cross University in Lismore was that there is still a long way to go before women achieve equality with men.

Page MP Janelle Saffin said she was saddened to hear that the full-time wage gap between men and women was increasing.

Women now earn on average 90 per cent of the male income – the biggest gap since 1978.

Yet feminism seems to have become a dirty word.

Ms Saffin told the gathering of about 120 that she had been warned against calling herself a feminist as it would cost her votes.

“I was also warned not to call myself ‘Ms’, because then they would know I was a feminist,” she said.

Ms Saffin said Parliament, where three-quarters of MPs are male, was still a man’s world.

“The air-conditioning is set for men wearing suits. In summer I still need to wear my winter woollies,” she said.

Another guest speaker, Jenelle Sharman, spoke about the challenges of juggling a career as a former detective and mother.

“It probably cost me some of the best years of my daughter’s childhood, but I hope she one day realises I tried to be the best person I could be,” Ms Sharman said.

The lunch was arranged as a fundraising event for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter. Spokeswoman Nyree Epplett said given the service had just welcomed its first female onboard doctor it was fitting to organise an event to celebrate women.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell celebrated the day bybeing awarded with the IWD Local Government Award for Regional Elected Women.

Local Government Minister, Barbara Perry described her as ‘an incredible woman’, who had shown great leadership during the floods in May, while recovering from breast cancer.

In Byron Bay, an International Women’s Day lunch was held at The TandoorPalace as a fundraiser for the Youth Activities Centre.

Senior Bollywood dancer Premala and belly dancerTatiana performed.

Mayor Jan Barham praised the women of Byron Bay and the way they quietly went about looking after the young and the homeless, and caring for the future of the Shire.

International Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1911, after being proclaimed at an international women’s conference in Copenhagen the previous year.



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