Behind The Spoonie Society

International Women's Day

International Women's Day

On Wednesday, March 8, Australia – and the world – celebrates International Women’s Day. It’s an important day on the world calendar, for reasons that, unfortunately, are self-explanatory. We’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s still a long way to go, especially when it comes to women of colour, and those within the LGBTQIA+ and other marginalised communities. We’re proud to share the perspectives of two remarkable women from diverse communities, on the importance of IWD, and what the future holds for women. 


Dr Diaswati Mardiasmo is an Indonesian born woman of colour, who has lived in Australia for the past 20 years. Dr Mardiasmo is on the Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympics Legacy Committee and sits on the board of Multicultural Australia. 


TSS: What does International Women's Day mean to you?

Dr M: I hold International Women’s Day extremely dearly – as this is THE DAY, the chance for us to really celebrate women. It doesn’t mean that I don’t celebrate my female warriors every day, I do, however love having a special day just shines a light to it – especially as we all get extremely busy. 


TSS: Why is a day like this important?

Dr M: As women, we can feel alone. We may be the only ones staying at home with a child, or the only one dealing with sexual harassment, the only one juggling three jobs, the only one trying to make our voice heard in the workplace, and many other situations where you might feel alone. IWD is a great avenue so that women do not feel alone, that they do have a tribe, they have network and support, and there are many fellow females ready to celebrate them


TSS: What have been some of the most significant changes for women in recent years? 

Dr M: I think one of the most significant changes is our increasing presence in anything that is originally male dominated. Industries such as construction, real estate, engineering, technology, and many others. High level positions whether its board members, CEOs, and politics. More female community leaders in respected organisations. And what’s more, we are seeing more and more women of colour in these positions and industries. We are also seeing a decline in “mum shaming” or looking down at stay-at-home mums. In fact, we celebrate them and their choices.


TSS: What changes still need to take place?

Dr M: Although we have seen significant changes, there is more that can be done. We still have the issue of a gender pay gap and more often than not mums are disadvantaged – they are the ones who stay at home. We still see many young females being exploited – whether its sexually, time-wise, or being cheated out of a fair wage. We still see a lot of little girls missing out on education, because of cultural belief.


TSS: How important is diversity when celebrating and championing women?

Dr M: Immensely important. As a woman of colour, I have had to break out of the traditional Indonesian and Islamic school of thinking. Women need to know, and feel, that their diversity is an asset and not a liability. So many women come to me and say – I would love to do this, but you know, in my culture, it’s just not the thing to do. Or I don’t know how to talk to my husband or my father or family about it, because it’s not the done thing.


How will you celebrate IWD?

I have a couple of lunches and dinners to attend, a date night with my sassy 6-year-old, a board meeting, and a date night with my partner.


Dr Rebecca Ray, is a clinical psychologist and the author of six books. She married Nyssa, her partner of 10 years, as soon as it was legal to do so. She’s also the mother of a 4-year-old little boy.


TSS: What does International Women's Day mean to you?

Dr R: IWD means recognition and celebration to me. Recognition of the power of women and what they offer their people, their communities, their places of work and the world, and celebration of women and femme voices and the unique contributions that we make.


TSS: Why is a day like this important?

Dr R: Because our contributions and voices are still not considered equal in many places.


TSS: What have been some of the most significant changes for women in recent years? 

Dr R: For me in particular, the recognition of same sex marriage directly affected me by allowing me to marry my wife in the eyes of the law. This change has offered equality for the hearts of women and femmes that we haven't had before in Australia, and it's about damn time. 


TSS: What changes still need to take place?

Dr R: In no particular order: Income equality, addressing the widespread and horrific issue of violence (especially domestic) against women, stamping out diet culture, recognition of the value of women's unpaid work, raising the voices of First Nations people who identify and women and femme.


TSS: How important is diversity when celebrating and championing women?

Dr R: Diversity is non-negotiable


TSS: How will you celebrate IWD?

Dr R: By reminding all the women and femmes I love and care about how important they are.

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