IWD breakfast celebrates women in BCE

International Women's Day

​BCE Executive Director Pam Betts (fourth from left) with IWD panelists (from left) 
Dr Maeve Louise Heaney, Jasmine Ruben,  Balveen Ajimal, Rachel Boden, and
special guest speaker Stephanie Wollard

DIVERSITY, inclusion and gender equality were on the menu at BCE’s second International Women’s Day (IWD) breakfast.

The breakfast was an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the remarkable contribution and achievements that women made to Catholic education and the wider community.

IWD acts as a reminder of the need to continue to advocate for and promote gender equality with this year’s theme #EachforEqual drawn from a notion of ‘collective individualism’.

More than 250 women and men, including a number of students from BCE colleges, gathered at St Lucia Golf Club to hear the amazing story of Stephanie Wollard, who founded Seven Women, an organisation that has educated, trained and employed thousands of disabled and marginalised women and children in Nepal. 

Stephanie spoke about how she set up Seven Women at age 22 after meeting seven disabled women working in a tin shed in Kathmandu.

She discovered the women were struggling to make a living in the face of harsh discrimination.

With her last $200 dollars and some advice from her mother back in Australia, she paid for two trainers to teach the women how to produce products for sale locally and abroad.

She said 15 years later Seven Women now ran their own manufacturing business, a cooking school and an education institute, empowering the next generation of women to transform their lives and communities.

Stephanie said while education was normal for Australians, for Nepalese women it meant having a life.

“It’s everything for them, it’s mobility, it’s the ability for these women to move around, read bus signs and street signs, learning how to budget, counting money, not getting ripped off in the local market,” she said.

“It’s about helping them reach their human potential, sharing ideas and embracing the creativity we all have inside us,” she said.

San Sisto College, Carina, college captains Maddie Marshall and Sasha Gregory
enjoyed being part of BCE’s International Woman’s Day Breakfast​

Stephine’s talk was followed by a panel discussion with an amazing line-up of women forging a gender equal world, challenging bias and taking action for equality.

Panelists RabMed CEO Rachel Boden; BCE Strategy and Performance Executive Balveen Ajimal; St Francis College Crestmead, early career teacher Jasmine Ruben, the first recipient of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Teaching

Scholarship; and theologian and composer Dr Maeve Louise Heaney revealed some amazing insights into their own career journeys as they answered questions from MC Liliana Montague and the enthusiastic audience.

Miss Betts said the message from all the guest speakers was clear: “we all are called to contribute to making our communities and our world a more equitable, inclusive and safe place, especially for the vulnerable. 

“We know that in a world that is equal regardless of gender a world that values diversity and engenders respect is a world where each person is valued as being made in the image and likeness of God,” she said.

“Collectively, all of us can make this world a better place,” she said.​

 IWD guest speaker Stephanie Wollard signs her book

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