Newsletter – Sydney June 2017

Dear Friends

I have returned to Australia after a three-week visit to Mexico City, Atlanta and Los Angeles. I was especially pleased to return to Mexico – the birthplace in 1907 of my favourite artist, Frida Kahlo, whose home and museum I visited when at the International Federation of University Women’s biennial conference seven years ago. In addition to being an amazing artist, she has become a feminist icon, particularly for women of colour, LGBTIQ people and women with disabilities. Kahlo had originally hoped to be a doctor, but polio as a child and a traffic accident as a teenager left her with on-going physical injuries and unable to follow her original dream. While recovering, she picked up art, an old hobby from her childhood, and turned her canvases into commentary on gender, race, class, and identity. This painting, The Two Fridas was completed shortly after Kahlo’s divorce with Diego Rivera depicting her two different personalities and her desperation and loneliness after the separation. One is the traditional Frida in Tehuana costume with a broken heart, sitting next to an independent, modern dressed Frida. Later Kahlo and Rivera married again.

This is again a long newsletter but I hope you will skim through the headings that follow in case there is a subject of particular interest to you at this time….

Recent Travels.

Mexico.

Frida Kahlo’s work dealt explicitly with some taboo subjects in the first half of the 20th century: miscarriages, gender inequalities and the personal lives of women. When other artists stuck to traditional depictions of female beauty, Kahlo showed birth, breastfeeding and disability with a raw honesty totally unparalleled. She challenged what being a woman was meant to be, what being a Mexican in a post-colonial world was meant to be, and has become an icon for minorities the world over to achieve whatever they want, regardless of circumstance. She married Diego Rivera, a renowned muralist and important figure in Mexican art. I recently saw a beautiful small travelling exhibition with some fascinating photographs of them at the New South Wales Art Gallery.

Throughout Mexico City there are amazing murals on many walls, including in the National Autonomous University of Mexico. I had the opportunity of seeing a mural in progress by artist Martha Ortiz Sotres, and the pleasure of placing one of the coloured tiles under her supervision.

A particular privilege was the work of international sculptor Glenda Hecksher (photo) who was my generous host. Her home and gardens are full of her magnificent sculptures and it was a delight to watch her at work in her atelier. The Mexican Federation of University Women (FEMU) had invited me to speak at their breakfast assembly and also to lecture at the Museum for Women that FEMU had inaugurated in 2010, featuring the work of many women artists and including three lovely sculptures by Glenda. My third shorter speech was at the launch of a menstrual mixed media art exhibition in the Museum. Since the 1970s women have been using menstrual blood in their work but many continue to be repulsed because menstruation is one of the last taboos in our culture. Simply being a woman and revealing the natural processes of the female body is still a revolutionary act in some circles. The fight for women to assert their bodies on their own terms as a central subject continues. FEMU must be one of the most active federations of Graduate Women International. FEMU members hosted me for breakfasts and lunches in some wonderful restaurants and Secretary General Lucia Guzman welcomed me to her home in the State of Mexico over the weekend. I have been reporting on my journeys and experiences on Facebook when I have time: so if any of this travel news is of particular interest please follow my journey there.

Atlanta, Georgia.

My next stop was the Rotary Convention with over 40,000 delegates, including fellow Rotarians from my old Bangladesh club (photo with Michael Arietti). I was last in Atlanta in 1996 with my daughter Ellen who was coaching Australian women rowers. I shared a hotel room with my friend Christelle Balikwisha from the Democratic Republic of Congo and met up with friends from Rwanda, Anne Gahongayire, former Secretary General of Rwanda’s Supreme Court, now teaching at Oglethorpe University, and Michael, former US Ambassador to Rwanda and his wife Lesley Arietti.

The Ariettis and I had a splendid visit to the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site. Established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, The King Center is the official, living memorial dedicated to the advancement of the legacy of Dr King, leader of America’s greatest nonviolent movement for justice, equality and peace and receives more than 650,000 visitors annually from all over the world (photo). The King Center utilises diverse media, including books, audio and video cassettes, film, television, CDs and web pages, to reach out far beyond its physical boundaries to educate people all over the world about King’s life, work and his philosophy and methods of nonviolent conflict, reconciliation and social change.

Los Angeles.

My third stop was in California, again to catch up with friends and colleagues. I stayed at the magnificent home of Fay Weber, with whom I served for many years on the board of the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund, and was well entertained by her son Michael Weber who visited my home in Sydney earlier in the year. I also attended the La Cuisine Club of the local American Association of University WomenIt was a joy to meet two of my houseguests in Rwanda again: Dr Helene Baribeau, Country Director, Water for People in Rwanda who has since had years of assignments with Médecins Sans Frontières in Haiti; and Elizabeth Scharpf, Sarita Bhatt and baby son Niran  (photo) at Santa Barbara.  Elizabeth is Chief Instigating Officer of Sustainable Health Enterprises, the Rwandan business making cheap sanitary pads from banana fiber.

It has been very interesting to be in the US, post President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. This decision now puts US in the company of both Nicaragua and Syria as the only three countries in the world not to be committed. The environmental ambitions of a wide range of local and state US and foreign governments as well as businesses are carrying on with their existing efforts to reduce carbon emissions and are creating broad coalitions to achieve even bigger gains.

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron called on all the US scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the US president to come and work in France, to work together on concrete solutions for our climate. “Wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility to make our planet great again”.

I have very much enjoyed listening to Rachel Maddow (photo) one of the first openly gay US television hosts, political commentator and author leading a nightly television show on MSNBC that has recently been recognised as the number-one prime-time news show on cable television.

International Aid.

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s International Development Minister, has unveiled Canada’s first feminist international assistance policy aiming to spend 95% of its budget on equality and empowerment by 2021. The Women’s Voice and Leadership Program will allocate $150 million to the needs of local women’s organisations in developing countries. At least 50% will go to sub-Saharan Africa.

Winnie Byanyima (photo) Ugandan and executive director of Oxfam International has been in Australia to give the opening address at Progress 2017. She said that there are eight men in the world who own as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity. This extreme wealth is undermining democracy and social cohesion, and does not make “moral, economic or social sense.” Byanyima said that not enough of us are accepting the moral argument against economic inequality. “We have an economy that is built for the 1% and is rigged against the rest of us…Rich men benefit from exploiting women at the bottom of the economic pile.” She added that Australia can take a lead on tackling climate change, as long as enough people stand up to political and economic elites.

Another eminent visiting speaker to Australia was Dr Sima Samar (photo), Chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, and it was such a privilege to meet and spend time with her again. Dr Samar founded the university where the Women’s Empowerment Centre, supported by indigo foundation, is based and young women are now studying on scholarships. In answering a question about how she carries on in such a challenging environment as Afghanistan, she said: “The reason I am tough was because I had the tool that was my education, otherwise even my own family was thinking that I am their property…and I thought that I belonged to myself. So it is really very important to give the confidence and self-confidence through education to these girls to stand and live again with dignity.

I chair indigo foundation’s Development Committee and Dr Samar’s words ring true across our programs in many countries. The women we work with around the world are indeed tough. In the face of poverty and inequality, they are formidable leaders empowered by education, training and community support. Our local partners continue to make a difference, educating and empowering girls and women, improving lives in their communities and building strong and inclusive grassroots organisations. Donations to indigo foundation are welcome as we establish a new partnership with PEKKA (Women Headed Household Empowerment) in Indonesia that will give 200 women heads-of-household the chance to enrol in PEKKA’s Women’s Empowerment School; expand access to sexual health education, counselling and testing through Club Rafiki‘s ‘Family Friendly Centre’ in Rwanda; and improve the chances that a girl will get through school and into university in Afghanistan. Because of our lean model, volunteer-based with a virtual office, we can be confident that our donations will go a long way to directly support grassroots organisations making a big impact.

Obituary.

There was widespread expression by individuals, organisations, institutions and nations across the world of a collective sense of loss and sorrow at the passing of Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a position he had held since 2011. Dr Osotimehin was a remarkable champion of the lead UN agency on reproductive health matters. Under his leadership, UNFPA has become known for its worldwide campaign against early and forced child marriages, obstetric fistula and female genital mutilation in many parts of the world where these practices are rife. The world has lost a true advocate of health, human rights and wellbeing for all – a global public health advocate who was admired for his passion and commitment to improving the health of women and girls.

Now for my usual round up of women’s news from around the world.

Women in Sport.

Kanchhi Maya Tamang (photo) 28 from the Sindupalchowk district of Nepal has summited Mount Everest for gender equality in sports.  After an 11-hour-climb from Camp 4 on Everest’s South Col route, Tamang, together with Pemba Dorje Sherpa, and their Sherpa teammates reached the 29,035 feet (8,848 metres) summit of the world’s highest peak on 20 May. It was the first time someone has climbed Mount Everest for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
My win is a win for all women and girls. And my mission is to contribute to a discrimination-free Nepal where all girls and women have freedom and an enabling environment to realise their full human potential.” Tamang emphasised the importance of supporting and motivating more women and girls to try mountaineering and all sports: “For many Nepali women and girls there is an invisible Everest between their homes and the sports field. I have climbed Everest to empower women who are climbing their own mountains.”
Ganesh Gurung, a member of UN Women’s Nepal Civil Society Advisory Group, which supported Maya’s mission said: “Kanchhi Maya has proven to the world and to Nepali society that women possess the capacity to reach any height.”

Elena Glouftsis (photo) 25 has been appointed the Australian Football League’s (AFL) first woman field umpire. She hopes her debut will open doors for other young girls who may consider umpiring as a career path. Tracey Gaudry will be the next chief executive of Hawthorn Football Club, marking the first time an AFL club has ever had a woman leading at the top. Formerly General Manager with Athletics Australia, Gaudry is also a former Olympic cyclist (representing Australia in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics), and describes herself as a “typical kid” growing up in Victoria, “kicking the footy about the oval on the weekend…It is a privilege to have built a career in sport over two decades, and to have the opportunity to bring all of my knowledge and experience in national, international, sport-specific and whole-of-sport roles to Hawthorn.

Australia’s female cricketers are among the very best sportspeople Australia has ever produced, having captured six of the 10 World Cup titles and winning more than 87% of the matches contested, an astonishing figure. Today’s team is ranked number one in the world across all three formats of the game.

The photo is of Kristen Beams and Meg Lanning celebrating a wicket. The Southern Stars have decided to change their name to the Australian Women’s Cricket Team. Women in most Australian sporting codes are fighting for gender pay equity, a fair living wage for all female athletes, equal media coverage and equal access to sports facilities, stadiums and amenities for women and girls as players and supporters. National sporting codes are now staging women’s leagues and competitions. But female athletes continue to be underpaid and poorly supported off the field and women employed across the sports industry remain under represented in leadership, administrative and management roles, advocacy, mentoring, workshops and social media. Fox Sports TV recently agreed to show top Australian women’s basketball league games. Serena Williams returned to the top of the Women’s Tennis Association world rankings and immediately shared the news about her unborn baby and that she will be skipping tournaments for the rest of the year.

Women in Politics.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivered his pledge of gender parity and unveiled a gender-balanced cabinet with 11 of 22 posts taken by women (photo).

Sylvie Goulard is defence minister while Olympic fencing champion Laura Flessel is sports minister. Half the list of candidates for the parliamentary elections included figures from France’s civil society. Agnès Buzyn, is health minister: a well-known health professional, who has headed the haematology department at the Necker children’s hospital in Paris as well as France’s national cancer institute. Sophie Cluzel, has the role of disabilities minister. Her four children include a daughter with Down’s Syndrome. Sibeth Ndiaye, 37, born in Senegal ran the press-relations side of Macron’s presidential campaign and now has the task of doing the same for his presidency. She only became a naturalised French citizen last year. Nicolas Hulot, a well-known campaigning environmentalist, becomes ecology minister. France voted a record number of women into parliament. Of the 577 newly elected lawmakers, 223 were female, beating the previous record of 155 set after the last election. That sent France leapfrogging from 64th to 17th in the world rankings of female parliamentary representation and to 6th place in Europe, overtaking Britain and Germany, according to Inter-parliamentary Union data compiled at the start of June.

Provisional election results in Niue indicate a boost to women’s representation in Niue’s parliament from two to five women now in the 20-seat legislature.
The US has its first female State President Dr Hilda Heine (photo) in the Marshall Islands, the first female leader in Micronesia, and only the fourth woman to lead in a country in the entire Pacific, following New Zealand’s Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark and Australia’s Julia Gillard. Even before her election, President Heine was a household name in the Pacific for the work she has done in making space for women’s voices in public discourse. She founded Women United Together Marshall Islands, a women’s rights organisation that brought together individual women’s groups from across the archipelago to amplify their voices on issues like human rights advocacy, women in leadership, climate change, and violence against women. She is a huge advocate for action against climate change and the looming risk of rising sea levels for the islands of the Pacific. “The land is very much connected to our culture and us as a people…it’s important we remain there”.

There is no doubt that Prime Minister Therese May made a huge mistake in going to the polls early. The good news is that more women were elected to the United Kingdom parliament than ever: there are now 208 female MPs (32%), although the Tory gender balance is worse. In a plus for diversity, a record number of black and minority ethnic persons (52 MPs), LGBT (45) and MPs with disability were elected. For the first time, more than half of those elected were educated in state schools. Kenyan activists have welcomed a High Court ruling giving parliament 60 days to ensure a third of lawmakers are women or face dissolution. The ruling follows a lengthy struggle to increase women’s political representation in the patriarchal society. Kenya’s 2010 constitution guarantees women a third of seats in parliament, but its male-dominated assembly has repeatedly frustrated efforts to pass legislation needed to enact the quota. Women vying for office in Kenya frequently face violence and intimidation in a country where women in politics are frowned upon. They also often lack the political clout and money to get nominated by the major parties. Kenya, which heads to the polls in August, has East Africa’s lowest representation of women in parliament at 19 percent, compared to 61 percent in Rwanda and 38 percent in Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Kenyan-born Lucy Gichuhi (photo) has taken a seat in the Federal Senate. A lawyer, Gichuhi migrated to Australia in 1999, became an Australian citizen in 2001 and has never held dual citizenship. She grew up with next to nothing on the slopes of Mount Kenya, walking barefoot to school, sharing a bed and single blanket with her eight sisters. After school, she worked gathering food for her family. In her first wide-reaching speech in Parliament, witnessed by her family, members of her community and leaders from both the major parties who visited the floor of the Senate to listen, Senator Gichuhi set out her agenda and her passions, speaking of education, the need for good governance, financial literacy, welfare reform and the importance of proper and well-funded aged care.: “Being the only black African-Australian senator is my point of difference…What we do with our differences, our unique gifts, is our choice. Let us choose wisely.”

Women in Leadership.

Two women have been named to highly visible posts at the UN: Pramila Patten of Mauritius is the new special envoy on sexual violence in conflict; and Virginia Gamba (photo) of Argentina, is special envoy on children in armed conflict. Patten is among 14 women named to senior positions by Secretary-General António Guterres in his tenure since 1 January, out of 31 appointments so far. Rowing Olympic gold medallist Dame Katherine Grainger has been appointed chairperson of United Kingdom Sport. Along with the gold she won with Anna Watkins for Great Britain in the double sculls at the London 2012 Olympics, Dame Katherine also has four silver medals and is the first female from the country to make the podium at five consecutive Games, starting at Sydney 2000. Alex Mahon, an outstanding leader and highly experienced chief TV executive in the UK, who has developed and grown major international businesses in both the creative and technology sectors, has become the first female chief executive of Channel 4 in its 35-year history. Cressida Dick with a reputation for calmness and toughness is the first female commissioner to lead the Metropolitan Police in its 188-year history. An Oxbridge graduate, she has a wealth of operational experience and achievement unsurpassed by previous commissioners.

Professor Dawn Freshwater, a professor in mental health, with her research focused on psychological therapies and offender health, has been named Vice Chancellor of the University of Western Australia. Women now run four of the five universities based in WA. University of Notre Dame VC, Celia Hammond, has the longest service having been there since 2008. Deborah Terry was appointed to the Curtin University in 2014 and Eeva Leinonen joined Murdoch University as VC in 2016.  Sue Kench has been appointed as the Global Managing Partner for King & Wood Mallesons, stepping up from her current position as Chief Executive Partner Australia.

The International Space Station‘s commander, Astronaut Peggy Whitson (photo) has broken the US record for the most accumulated time in space for an American: 534 days, two hours and 48 minutes. She called the space station “a key bridge” between living on Earth and travelling into deep space, and singled out the station’s recycling system that transforms astronauts’ urine into drinking water. Whitson 57 is the oldest woman in space and was already the world’s most experienced spacewoman and female spacewalker. By the time she returns to Earth in September, she will have logged 666 days in orbit over three flights. Russian Gennady Padalka holds the world record of 879 days. Professor Valerie Hudson, George HW Bush Chair in the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University has been named one of the top 100 Most Influential Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine for her research showing gender imbalances have global consequences. She argues that legal prohibitions against gender discrimination and violence are insufficient to solve the problem. Education programs are needed so that women know their rights and men can embrace non-violent models of manhood.

Former Malawi President Joyce Banda (photo) has joined Akilah Institute for Women as Honorary Chancellor. Akilah’s long track record of educating women leaders in Rwanda mirrors Banda’s own commitment to advancing women’s participation in the private and public sectors. I have been proud to be an Advisory Committee member of Akilah. By pioneering a results-oriented, women-focused approach to leadership and workforce education, Akilah is equipping women with the skills they need to assume leadership roles in their homes, communities, and countries. Sydney has won a global bid to host the next meeting of the 2018 Global Summit of Women when it was backed by leading male and female business and political leaders who want to showcase Australia as a nation striving for gender equality. The ‘Davos for women event will be held in Sydney next year. It is expected to attract more than 1000 business and government leaders from 80 countries, and inject more than $2 million into the New South Wales economy.

Women in Africa.

UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka travelled to Rwanda to participate in the Transform Africa Summit that has become a landmark forum on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the continent, gathering around 4,000 participants annually.

The Smart Africa Women’s Summit followed, led by the First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda, Jeanette Kagame (photo) and other African first ladies, as well as leaders from the private sector, civil society and the academia, aiming to highlight the strategic interventions that are being pursued to empower women and girls in ICT. UN Women, the African Union Commission, and the Permanent Mission of Germany have launched the African Women Leaders Network, a ground breaking initiative that seeks to enhance the leadership of women in the transformation of Africa with a focus on governance, peace and stability. The Network was launched following the three-day High-Level Women Leaders Forum for Africa’s Transformation, which took place at the UN Headquarters in New York. The Network aims to harness the wealth of African women’s experiences of leadership, build on other existing and emerging networks of women leaders, as well as developing new partnerships to strengthen the capacity of women. It intends to support the advancement of more women leaders on the continent, through peer learning and mentoring, to enhance their contributions to building and sustaining peace, security and political processes for sustainable economic and social transformation, towards the realization of Africa Agenda 2063 and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At grassroots level, women have been at the forefront of community peace-building in post-conflict countries including Liberia, Rwanda and more recently in Burundi. They have also led efforts to counter the Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016 that swept several countries across West Africa.

Women in Asia.

The head of the Afghan Women Judges’ Association, Shakila Abawi Shagarf, announced last month that there are now 260 female judges (photo) in Afghanistan as of this year. While the majority, 225, are in the capital of Kabul, there are 21 in Harat, 11 in Balkh, two in Takhar and one in Baghlan provinces. During the Taliban regime that fell 16 years ago, there were no female judges. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has not yet fulfilled a campaign promise to put a woman on the country’s nine-member Supreme Court. In 2015 he nominated Judge Anisa Rasooli to serve on the Court, but she fell 9 votes short of the 97 needed to put her on the bench. Despite the persistent Taliban terrorist attacks, Afghanistan is a nation that continues to make considerable progress, especially for women. The maternal mortality rate has fallen dramatically and women’s athletic clubs have become popular social activities. Women are being encouraged to take roles in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and 80% of Afghan women now have regular or occasional access to mobile phones.

Women in the Pacific.

Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) is a 10 year $320 million Australian Aid program supporting 14 Pacific countries to meet the commitments made in the 2012 Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration and working with Pacific governments, civil society organisations, the private sector, and multilateral, regional and UN agencies to achieve its intended outcomes. Other key sponsors in 2017 are ExxonMobil and Oil Search Ltd. The overall Pacific Women’s program goal is for women in the Pacific, regardless of income, location, disability, age or ethnic group, to participate fully, freely and safely in political, economic and social life. UN research shows that the security and status of women are strong predictors of a country’s overall stability. Women’s exclusion leads to risky, parochial decision-making, while domestic violence provides a problematic template for resolving disputes outside the home. In their recent meeting Pacific Women discussed the effects of gender inequity on national security, the positive impact of women’s empowerment on governance and decision-making, and the continuum between domestic violence and large-scale conflict.

Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu (photo) of Tonga has been appointed the new High Representative and Under-Secretary-General for UN Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. She is currently Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Tourism, Tonga. Previously she was Acting Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Council of the University of the South Pacific (USP) (2015); Deputy Pro-Chancellor and Deputy Chair of the Council of USP (2009-2016); Deputy Director General and Director of Education, Training and Human Development of the Secretariat of Pacific Community (2009-2015); Permanent Representative and Ambassador of the Government of Tonga to the UN, US, Cuba and Venezuela and High Commissioner to Canada (2005-2009); and Secretary for Foreign Affairs (2002-2005).

Women in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The first Highlands Regional Forum was held at the University of Goroka, PNG earlier this year. This regional forum was held following requests from women across the nation to extend the annual Women’s Forum beyond Port Moresby. Around 400 women and 100 men attended Strongim Toktok Bilong Yumi Wantaim (Strengthening Our Voices Together). The first day focused on leadership and politics with the aim of strengthening the ‘power of our voices’. Discussions on the second day were focused on working towards women’s economic empowerment.

The Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, Dr Sharman Stone attended the Forum on her first international trip as Ambassador (photo). Dr Stone reaffirmed Australia’s partnership with PNG to improve the lives of women and girls in the country. Participants were appreciative of the opportunity to have women in leadership roles across the different spheres of government, public service, private sector, community and churches, and men supportive of gender equality to meet, network and learn from each other. The total number of women candidates in the upcoming PNG general election has risen above previous polls. The Electoral Commission has reported that a total of 3332 candidates have nominated to contest the 2017 election, based on official figures from each province. Of this number, 165 are women candidates.

Family News.

I returned to Australia with nearly all my children overseas. Andrew and Ellen are with their elite Australian rowing crews (photo at Andrew’s 55th birthday in Varese). After training in Italy to become acclimatised, they competed at the second Rowing World Cup regatta in Poland, their new crews gaining a bronze medal, fourth and sixth places. Overall Australia finished with 5 medals (2 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze) and were third on the medal table behind New Zealand and Poland. The team is back at the training centre in Varese and then on to Lucerne Switzerland for the final regatta. Partners Vicky and Adam are gallantly caring for their daughters while managing their busy employment, including Vicky’s new full-time job coaching rowing at Radford College. Erica and Ian are currently in Europe visiting international art exhibitions at the Venice Biennale and Documenta in Kassel, Germany. Douglas is currently working as a Visiting Remote Medical Practitioner in Central Australia with several communities including those at Imampa (Mt Ebenezer), Tara (Neutral Junction) and Ali Curung (Warrabi). Julie has been in Seattle visiting with their son Nathan and Kaylin, and will be travelling to Ethiopia in July to volunteer at Raey School.

Indigenous Australia.

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum, in a sunset ceremony in central Australia, approximately 300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates from across Australia delivered the Uluru Statement from the Heart (photo). Convened by the Referendum Council, the statement put forth an Indigenous Australian position on proposed constitutional reform, rejecting constitutional recognition in favour of a treaty. Through the establishment of a Makarrata Commission (a body that would oversee agreement-making between governments and Indigenous groups), the Uluru statement expressed Indigenous peoples’ “aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia”. Racism in Australia is not just echoed in the words of right-wing commentators or the jokes of professional football players and their followers; it is ingrained in our society, enshrined in our institutions and our legislation. Race is inescapable and it has been central to the realities of a nation forged on the invasion and colonisation of the first Australians. We cannot talk about building truthful relationships without being honest about the racialized realities of our social world. Race was the foundation on which this nation was built and it continues to structure our society, its institutions and social life. We can only hope that the federal government and the Australian people will listen and respond to Indigenous peoples’ call for a “fair and truthful relationship” through a fair and truthful conversation about the power of race in maintaining power over Indigenous peoples’ lives and lands.

[well size=”sm”] from today i live out of my imagination

i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today

Napo Masheane [/well]

 

Blessings of peace and justice,

Shirley Randell

Newsletter – Sydney April 2017

Dear Friends
I began this letter in New York at this year’s 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations headquarters (CSW 61). Four of us presented a joint paper for a parallel event on Health, Education, Sport and Women’s Empowerment: narratives from Australia, Rwanda and Bangladesh.

My companion presenters were Professor Dr Jaya Dantas from Curtin University, who concentrated on health and education while I spoke briefly on education in Rwanda and Bangladesh and then on sport. Shirley Gillett and her daughter Kat from New Zealand, spoke particularly about the bonding that sport brings to mothers and daughters

The theme of this year’s gathering was Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. We highlighted how education and sport can lead to women’s economic empowerment and improve health and wellbeing for women and their children. If you are particularly interested in CSW and women’s sport read on… If your interest is more generally on world issues affecting women in various countries go to the section starting at Travels in the US

CSW was established in 1946 with a mandate to promote women’s rights in the political, economic, civil, social and educational fields. It is also tasked with monitoring, reviewing and appraising progress achieved in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This year nearly 4000 representatives from 580 civil society organisations in 138 countries, with 82 ministers and 6 deputy ministers of UN Member States and UN entities met to review progress toward gender equality, set global standards and norms, and formulate policies.

The Minister for Women and Employment, Senator Michaelia Cash, the Ambassador for Women and Girls, Sharman Stone and the Human Rights Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins led the Australian delegation. The Australian Ambassador to the UN, Gillian Bird, welcomed us at a reception for delegates (photo).

With CSW61’s emerging theme being Empowerment of Indigenous Women, the Australian Government selected wonderful Indigenous women, as two of the three NGO delegates with Elizabeth Shaw  the President of UN Women Australia: Jahna Cedar, the Executive Officer at Gumala Aboriginal Corporation, who has advocated for gender equality and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) reconciliation for over 18 years, and Leann Wilson, Executive Director of Business Development and Innovation for Regional Economic Solutions, who has worked extensively to progress the opportunities and advancement for ATSI people in Australia and to further the cause of women’s leadership and empowerment.

photo of town hall meeting with UN Secretary General António GuterresI took part in the Australian team and was also a member of the Graduate Women International delegation and associate of the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund delegation to discuss progress and impediments to women and girls’ empowerment. The meetings provide both the grassroots perspective of women and girls’ issues, as well as high level policy discussions. NGOs have been influential in shaping the current global policy framework on women’s empowerment and gender equality and continue to play an important role in holding international and national leaders accountable for the commitments they have made.

The Agreed Conclusions from CSW61 highlight barriers that women face, such as unequal working conditions, women’s over-representation in the informal economy, gender stereotypes and social norms that reinforce women’s concentration in certain sectors, such as health and social areas, and the uneven share of unpaid care work that women do. Despite the long-standing existence of international labour standards on equal pay, the gender pay gap, which currently stands at 23 per cent globally, persists in all countries.

Member States expressed concern over this and the persistently low wages paid to women, which are often below decent living wages. In the final agreement, member states committed to the implementation of equal pay policies through social dialogue, collective bargaining, job evaluations and gender pay audits, among other measures. They affirmed ensuring women’s full and equal participation and leadership in the economy, as well as women’s right to work and rights at work, as vital steps to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Sport

Of course as Ambassador for the Women’s International Cricket League (WICL) my contribution to CSW61 concentrated on cricket, and in my presentation I highlighted the experience of three wonderful women cricketers. Cathia Uwamahoro (photo) captain of the Rwanda Women’s Cricket Team, was born in 1993 in Kigali Rwanda. Her father was killed in the genocide against the Tutsi when she was six months old, and her single mother Cathia raised her. In 2008, she passed a group of boys playing and became interested. She learned by watching and “fell in love with cricket”.

A national team player, Eric Dusingizimana, current captain and holder of the Guinness World Record for batting (51 hours continuously at the net) noticed Cathia and encouraged her to begin training with men as there was no women’s team. The Rwanda Cricket Association soon established Kigali Combine for all girls from the various schools around the capital, coached by Dusingizimana.

In 2009, Cathia was selected as a member of the first national Under 19 team competing in several International Cricket Council (ICC) Africa U19 Women’s Championships. She became captain of this team in 2013 and then captain of Charity women’s team. In 2016, with a record 90 runs from 45 balls, she was named Woman of the T20 series won by CharityCC, and was recruited to Kampala Institute of Cricket Clubs Ladies. In 2017, she broke the Guinness World Record for Women by batting in net for 26 hours, both to promote women’s cricket and to raise funds for Rwanda’s new cricket stadium.

Heather Knight, England’s women cricket captain, and Cathia’s role model, bowled in the record attempt. Now Cathia is juggling sport and undergraduate studies. She says, “My secret is hard work and patience, whenever I step on the pitch, I always want to perform as if it is my last day on the pitch…my aim is to continue to work hard and improve game per game…My dream is that one day, I will lead the Rwanda national women cricket team to the ICC Division 1.”

Jahanara Alam (photo) was born in 1993 in Khulna, Bangladesh. She played volleyball and basketball as a young girl because cricket was not very popular for girls and many people discouraged her. Not her father, however, who has always supported her, and now she has many fans. They pray for her in the mosques when she plays for the national team. Jahanara became a member of the Bangladesh national team in 2008 and was a member of the team that won the silver medal against the India women’s cricket team at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. She has played in the One Day Internationals (ODI) cricket competition since 2011, capturing 16 wickets in her 17th T20 match and 17 wickets in her 25th ODI matches. In 2016, Jahanara was captain of the Bangladesh national team in the Women’s ICC World T20 match in Bangalore India.
Born in Pune India in 1969,

 

Lisa Sthalekar (photo) was an orphan who was adopted and raised in Australia. Her father, who loved and followed cricket, played with her outside, took her to watch matches, and ensured the best coaching. Lisa played with Under 10 boys’ teams and at first tried to hide the fact that she was a girl, dressing in long pants and wearing a cap even while bowling. Later she played with and then captained the Combined High Schools Girls’ team.

In 1998, Lisa made her State debut in the Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL), played in 16 straight WNCL Finals between 1997 and 2013, in a record 145 matches, taking 166 wickets for an average of 22 runs, with a batting average of 34. Juggling study, sport and work, Lisa had to pay nearly AUD 3000 for flights, accommodation and other expenses in order to play for state junior teams in the 1990s. In 2006 she captained Australia in three ODIs against New Zealand, and was a member of the Australian teams that won the 2001 and 2011 Ashes – Australia/England. While playing, Lisa was also a coach and administrator at Cricket NSW.

A legend of Australian women’s cricket, having played for her country 187 times, Lisa is the first female board member of the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) and has been part of the ACA’s Women’s Executive since its inception in 2009. She oversees the men’s coaching program at Mosman and is the first Australian woman to commentate for men’s Test cricket, beginning in 2015 for Channel Nine and ABC radio with the Indian Premier League (IPL), for the South Africa v Australia series, and now for Channel Ten. She says, “I love cricket, I am a cricket tragic. I think a female perspective on the game certainly can’t hurt because there are so many women watching it as well.”

Following the success of WBBL over summer and the burgeoning interest in women’s sport in general, ACA has been under pressure to ensure cricket is a viable career pathway for female athletes. In a new five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), ACA has offered an immediate average pay increase of 125 per cent for female players. The average salary for an international Southern Stars player is set to jump from $79,000 to $179,000, with the average for domestic female players from $22,000 to $52,000. The offer is an attempt to move towards gender equity by ensuring that the minimum and average hourly pay will be the same for state men and women in 2017/18. For the first time, prize money is being offered for the WNCL of $258,000 and the WBBL of $309,000 this coming summer.

The agreement is also set to see investment in grassroots player development rise, with ACA committing itself to finding an extra $25m so that the total funding for grassroots cricket would rise to $76m. The difference in conditions between male and female athletes is not new and is reflected in publicity for women’s sport, which receives about 7% of Australian TV sports programming and 9% of sports coverage on the news. Low media coverage is reflective of the status of women’s sport generally, perpetuating a lack of visibility of female role models in sports: a great many Australians – young and old, boys and girls – miss out on seeing what women athletes are capable of. Thankfully this is changing.

The struggle is not only in Australia. The US Women’s National Ice Hockey team (photo) that has been one of the country’s most reliable winners over the last two decades, never having left an Olympic Games without a medal, usually silver or gold, while also winning seven of the last nine world championships, announced earlier this year that it would boycott the upcoming world championships over the ridiculously low wages and lack of support it continues to receive from the national governing body, USA Hockey.

There is an urgent widespread call for change within the US Olympic world in the 21st century and respect for women in a sport led by men and for the acknowledgement of a job well done by a nation that craves winning more than almost anything else. Solidarity from both women and men’s sports has led to a four-year deal for women in the national ice hockey team, with compensation of about $70,000 per player per year, a stunning jump from the pathetic $1,500 per year the players were getting. USA Hockey has also agreed to pay the players new performance bonuses and their income could rise to six figures annually if they win an Olympic gold medal or world championship. For the first time ever, the women’s team will receive the same level of travel arrangements and insurance coverage as the men’s team and there will be maternity support. There are provisions to advance women and girls’ hockey at the youth levels, a cause that was important to the national team players. US Soccer has now announced that it has ratified a five-year collective bargaining with the women’s national soccer team, ending a year-long contract negotiation following their Equal Play, Equal Pay campaign to highlight the pay discrepancy between the women’s and men’s national soccer teams.

Football. Major sponsors are bringing women’s sport to our televisions and into the mainstream.  The Australian Football League’s (AFL) inaugural women’s competition opening match between Carlton and Collingwood overwhelmed the organisers who predicted about 12,000 fans would attend. Instead it was a lock-out – 24,500 fans and AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan went outside the gates to apologise as hundreds more were turned away.

Women have not had that. Some local clubs don’t even have female-friendly change rooms. These women are in it for the love of the game and realising their dream is a dream for so many others; for the 380,000 girls and young women who are currently playing AFL; for the hundreds and thousands of others who are now going to see it as an option; for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who, for their sons and daughters, want role models like Tiarna Ernst, the 28 year old Western Bulldogs player who is a full-time doctor and a part-time athlete. Or Moana Hope, Collingwood’s marquee player, who works 18 hours a day juggling her job with her footy training, while being a fulltime carer for her younger sister who has a rare neurological condition.

Or Daisy Pearce, a 28-year-old midwife, who will captain the Melbourne Football Club. At the end of the season it was the Adelaide Crows (photo) who were victorious over the Brisbane Lions, winning the first AFL premiership by one goal. Erin Phillips, a former basketball star, added the AFLW trophy, a best-on-ground award and the AFLW inaugural best and fairest award to her two Women’s National Basketball Association titles and an Olympic silver medal from her time with the Opals.

On the other hand, the National Rugby League (NRL) chief executive Todd Greenberg has said that despite the AFLW success the NRL that will not rush the launch of a women’s rugby league competition. Currently Australia has about 40 elite female rugby league players. “I think in this space we’re spending a lot of time and energy on the Jillaroos to make sure our elite female pathway is strong…We have absolute aspirations to introduce more competition pathways for females, but in saying that we want to build from the ground up…I don’t want to start a competition without having the substance below it.” This is in spite of the fact that female participation is the fastest-growing area of rugby. As of last year, 482,000 women were involved in playing rugby league, which is a 27 per cent increase on the previous year. The code has aspirations of introducing a competition by 2020. The NRL has vowed to spend more money in country regions than ever before to help boost participation numbers in the game that has been overtaken by football and soccer.

Tennis. Venus Williams
described her sister Serena William’s Australian Open victory (photo) as a “beautiful thing” and believes her younger sibling will add more major singles titles to her tally of 23 before she decides to retire. Serena achieved an open-era record for major singles crowns when she beat Venus 6-4, 6-4, moving in front of Steffi Graf but still sitting behind Margaret Court (24) on the all-time list. Venus showed joy rather than disappointment when reflecting on Serena’s victory, explaining it is as much a win for the Williams family as it is for her sister. “I really enjoy seeing the name ‘Williams’ on the trophy.” she said. A humble Venus acknowledges her place in one of sport’s greatest stories, saying it has been “momentous” to have the opportunity to compete against her sister in nine major singles finals. “I don’t think we’re going for the greatest story in sports. We’re just going for some dreams,” she said. “In the case that we are, what an honour. What an honour.”

Sports boards. While women have seats at the table where major economic and financial decisions are made, they have not yet reached the top leadership positions in sport. Minister Baklai Temengil from Palau (photo) has been elected the first woman Vice-President of the Oceania Olympic Committee. A woman has never led the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or FIFA, football’s international governing body, widely regarded as the most prestigious and influential sport organisations.

Men hold a staggering 93% of chair and president roles in international sport federations, and 81% of CEO positions. The consequences are serious. These sport organisations not only often fail to adhere to democratic or ethical business practices because some stakeholders are underrepresented, but also their performance is likely to be compromised.

Less diverse boards lack multiple perspectives that promote sound decision making, problem solving and strategic planning. Having a critical mass of women bodes well for an organisation’s performance, including the level of innovation. The sooner sport governing bodies acknowledge the value of a critical mass of women on their boards and commit to achieving this, the better for sport worldwide.

The reason I am writing so much about women and sport is because of my role as WICL Ambassador. You are invited to join us in our endeavours to create a fully sustainable organisation that helps enable and empower women to pursue the professional field of their choice, and be remunerated fairly and equally.

We are sponsoring an event with SolarBuddy, “Gloves Off for Opportunity” gala dinner at 6.30pm on Wednesday 7 June at the Sofitel Wentworth Sydney (photo).

Funds raised will allow us to create the next episode of our documentary series FairBreak in Rwanda, and provide SolarBuddy solar lights to third world communities in an effort to end energy poverty. You’ll enjoy a night of music, entertainment, guest speakers and of course our Gloves Off panel discussion and auction of signed cricket gloves.

If you are interested, contact shaun.martyn@wicl.org or 0412332638 for further details.

Travels in the US.

Of course, almost every American I met was talking about their new President, Donald Trump and some TV programs are concentrating totally on politics. ln one of the President’s first executive orders he reinstated the ‘global gag rule’, a policy that has been repeatedly removed and reinstated by successive Democratic and Republican presidents since the 1980s and that blocks federal funding to international NGOs that provide termination counseling, referral and legal services and affects issues including HIV, maternal health, population growth and vaccinations. Mr Trump has now cut all funding to the UN Population Fund. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the US has been the single largest funder of international family planning and has helped reach more than 27 million women and couples with access to contraceptives and prevented 6 million unintended pregnancies. Access to family planning services is known to significantly reduce poverty and boost economic growth in countries that need it most.

A Family Planning Fund to counter the effects of the gag has raised over USD 200 million, as development leaders said it would not be possible to achieve the SDGs without access to family planning services (photo of young couple family planning in Rwanda). Countries including Sweden, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Australia, Norway and Luxembourg so far have pledged more than $110 million between them to the Fund. Belgium’s Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo said that “We cannot accept that the purely ideological decision of one country…would push millions of women and girls back…We will lead with our actions.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed an additional $20 million, an anonymous private donor $50 million and Sir Christopher Hohn, billionaire founder of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation has given a personal donation of $10 million.  Sheryl Sandberg, one of the most powerful and visible women in Silicon Valley has donated $1 million to Planned Parenthood, and last November sold off millions of dollars worth of Facebook stocks to help support women’s empowerment organisations.

Following the debacle of the immigration executive orders and the failure to pass the medical bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, attention is being given to alleged links to Russia, the President’s denial of climate change, and changes to laws on working conditions. The apparent gas attack in Syria this week highlights an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Middle East that the world, including Australia has stood by and watched with ineffective intervention. Mr Trump acted this week with the missile attack and is moving towards a collaborative initiative to deal with the al-Assad regime.

World Poverty and Famine.

Among other criteria, UN and food organisations define famine as when more than 30 percent of children younger than five suffer from acute malnutrition, and when mortality rates are two or more deaths per 10,000 people every day. A generation ago, 50 percent of humanity was malnourished, with calamitous famines widely predicted (photo). The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reported in 2015 that malnutrition had declined to the lowest level in human history. Today only 12 percent of the world’s population goes hungry with more than 6 billion people eating sufficient meals. Per-capita production of grain, beef, poultry, and dairy is rising faster than population almost everywhere in the world. Taking into account population growth, from 1990 to 2015, the share of humanity that does not live in deep poverty rose from 3.4 billion to 6.5 billion. In the current generation, 3 billion people—most of them in developing nations—have joined the ranks of those who are not impoverished.

However, today the world is facing its largest humanitarian crisis since 1945, with more than 20 million people in four countries in the Middle East and Africa facing starvation and famine. Tens of millions of people are starving in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and North Eastern Nigeria, and the devastation from South Sudan’s three-year civil war is worse than it has ever been. The UN has called for an immediate injection of funds plus safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid to avert a catastrophe, describing the current situation as a critical point in history that will reverse gains in economic development. The CSW outcomes statement reaffirmed that eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for development.

Women in Politics.

According to the Women in Politics 2017 Map launched at CSW61 by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women, the number of women in executive government and in parliament worldwide has stagnated, with only marginal improvements since 2015: the global average of women in national parliaments increased just slightly from 22.6% to 23.3% in 2016, and their participation at the ministerial level now stands at 18.3%.

In Western Australia, there is a record 30 women in both houses. The Australian Labour Party (ALP) won a landslide in the March election, with ALP women making up 38.6% of caucus: 15 of the 41 ALP Lower House seats and seven of the 16 ALP seats in the Upper House are held by women (photo). This has almost reached the ALP 40% target, although only five women (29.4 %) have been appointed to the cabinet of 17. There are just four Liberal women and two National women in State Parliament — 17 per cent for Liberals and 22 per cent for Nationals. At the ALP’s last national conference the party unanimously agreed to increase its 40% female requirement to 50% by 2025. The party would not do this if it thought it would be disadvantaged by such decisions, or end up with women taking seats over more ‘merit worthy’ men and risk losing further future elections.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kersti_KaljulaidEstonia’s parliament has selected a new president who will be the country’s first female leader. Kersti Kaljulaid (photo) is a European Union accountant who previously worked at the European court of auditors. Carrie Lam was selected to become Hong Kong’s next chief executive. After several months of delay, a new president of Somalia was elected in February. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has a reputation for not being corrupt and is a dual citizen of Somalia and US, with technocratic experience from both countries. Fifteen percent of the parliamentarians are younger than 35 and presumably more responsive to the needs of the Somali people, and 24 percent overall are women. That is not quite the 30 percent that Somali’s NGOs and the international community had hoped for, but it is still a significant increase compared with the composition of the previous Parliament. Women’s groups have been among the most effective peacemakers and anticorruption activists in Somalia. Challenges include fractious politics and entrenched corruption, a stubborn insurgency and insecurity, and an increasingly challenging external environment. Nadia Ahmed Abdou is the first woman to be appointed governor in Egypt after she was sworn into office as the head of the Nile Delta Governorate of Beheira. She founded the Arab Countries Water Utilities Association and is a member of the general assembly of the World Water Council.
The Gambian President Adama Barrow, a former property developer whose surprise electoral victory prompted the country’s first transition of power in more than two decades, has appointed a woman as his vice president. Fatoumatta Tambajang (photo), a prominent pro-democracy activist who was part of the opposition coalition that unseated long time ruler Yahya Jammeh. Ms Tambajang, was a former UN Development Program gender/development expert who served as a cabinet minister of Health, Social Welfare and Women’s Affairs in the previous government. There are only five women, 9.4 percent, in the Gambian parliament of 53, and their rank in the world classification is 163 (2012 data). Women’s rights campaigners in Jordan believe the country is slowly moving towards more progressive political representation after women MPs won 20 of 130 seats in recent parliamentary elections, compared with 18 out of 150 in the previous parliament. The strong performance of high-profile female MPs in the previous parliament has contributed to the emerging belief in ‘women’s ability to do good’ and effect change. While some have simply been ‘mouthpieces’ for the tribes they represent, a few have devoted themselves to pressing causes, including the campaign to overturn Article 308 of the Penal Code, which grants rapists clemency if they marry their victims.

Women in the Movies.

As part of Sydney’s International Women’s Day celebrations, I was delighted to hear actor Geena Davis speak at the Sydney Opera House. She has agreed to be in Ryan Murphy’s latest film Feud; he has committed to filling half of Feud’s director positions with women, people of color, and members of the LGBT community as part of his recently launched Half Foundation. Murphy has also created nearly 15 roles for women over 40 years of age on the new anthology series, provided women with salary parity, and given both Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange partial ownership of the show.

The recruitment of black African American women to work as mathematicians at the NASA installation in the south of US, demonstrated in the film Hidden Figures, challenges much of what we think we know about American history.

The photo of Dr Christine Darden, aerospace engineer and mathematician in the control room of a NASA wind tunnel, is one of many other women known as the ‘coloured computers’ who were not highlighted in the film. While the black women are the most hidden of the mathematicians who worked at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and later at NASA, they were not sitting alone in the shadows: the white women who made up the majority of Langley’s computing workforce over the years have hardly been recognised for their contributions to the agency’s long-term success. The surprisingly large numbers of black and white women who had been invisible in a profession seen as universally white and male, and the body of work they left behind was a revelation.

Women around the world.

Dame Nemat Shafik, better known by her nickname Minouche, has become the first woman to run the London School of Economics. St Paul’s Cathedral in the United Kingdom has appointed its first full-time female chorister in its 1,000-year history. Carris Jones, 35, was unanimously selected to join the choir’s alto section after several rounds of auditions by a panel including the cathedral’s director of music, organist and team of clergymen. St Paul’s musical director Andrew Carwood said Jones stood out because of her powerful and lyrical voice, and he hoped the new appointment would inspire other women to apply in future.

Tonje Skinnarland,Norway, one of the world’s most gender equal nations has announced its first-ever appointment of a woman to head the air force, Tonje Skinnarland, (photo) promoted at the age of 49 to the rank of major general. This comes as the nation’s air force undergoes a modernisation drive, with the imminent replacement of a fleet of old F-16 fighter jets with ultra-modern F-35s. After serving for three decades in the army – never as a pilot – her promotion is seen as a new milestone on the road towards gender parity. Since the early 1990s, the Norwegian army has seen women serve as fighter pilots, helicopter pilots and submarine commanders.

Military service has been mandatory for both sexes in Norway since last year, in a unique case for the NATO bloc, but due to a limited number of places, only the most motivated are kept on the force. Nearly one-third of conscripts called last summer were young women, who are often housed in mixed dorms to strengthen cohesion within the force.

President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on a peace agreement that women activists and movements working from the frontlines of local communities had an important role in achieving. Female Nobel prizewinners are still in short supply. As of 2015, just 48 women had been awarded a Nobel Prize, compared with 822 men: women are more likely to take home the Peace Prize — accounting for 16 such awards, followed by 14 for literature, 12 for physiology or medicine, four for chemistry, two for physics and one for economic sciences.

Women in Africa.

According to the 2016-2017 Global Competitiveness report, Rwanda is the third most competitive economy in Africa and 52nd globally after Mauritius (45) and South Africa (47) and the highest in the world and female in parliamentary representation (64 %). In Nigeria, ImeIme Umana, has made history as the first black woman president and the 131st leader of the Harvard Law Review, a prestigious legal journal in US. (Former US President Barack Obama was the first black person to be elected president in 1990.) The literary world is again mourning following the death at the age of 72 of Florence Onyebuchi ‘Buchi’ Emecheta (photo), one of Nigeria’s renowned literary figures, author of the world-acclaimed novel, Second Class Citizen and whose works included: The Joys of Motherhood, and The Bride Price. She was known for championing the causes of women and girls in her writings, which covered topics including child slavery, child marriage, life as a single mother, abuse of women, female independence and freedom through education, and racism in the UK and elsewhere. “Black women all over the world should re-unite and re-examine the way history has portrayed us,” she said.

Women in Australia.

June Oscar is the first Indigenous woman to be appointed ATSI Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. She is a Bunuba woman who is currently chief executive of the Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre in Fitzroy Crossing. Oscar has has a long career leading and advocating for Indigenous communities, most notably in helping to fight alcohol-related issues and damage, and playing an instrumental role in initiating the country’s first major study in Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. She was named one of the 50 most influential women in the world in 2011 and later awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia. The Indigenous Australian playwright and actor Leah Purcell has won the Victorian prize for literature for her acclaimed reimagining of Henry Lawson’s The Drover’s Wife, with a $100,000 prize, Australia’s richest single literary award. Purcell was also awarded at the Victorian premier’s literary awards, the $25,000 prize for drama for the same play, that premiered as part of the 2016 season for Belvoir Street Theatre in Sydney, and which the panel of judges described as a piece of theatre that “explodes out of the blocks with a moment of stark brutality and never lets up”.

Australia’s first female Chief Justice of the High Court, Susan Kiefel, has been sworn in at a ceremony in Canberra, using her speech to reflect on how historic the occasion was for women in law: “It would not be until 1987 that a woman, the Honourable Mary Gaudron, was appointed to this court”. Chief Justice Kiefel left school at 15, completing her high school studies part-time while working as a legal secretary. She studied law part-time before being admitted to the Queensland Bar in 1975. In 1987 she became the first woman in Queensland to be appointed Queen’s Counsel. Chief Justice Kiefel was welcomed into her new role by Chief Justices of Queensland, Victoria, New Zealand and Australian Capital Territory, and the Senior High Court of Australia Justice (photo).

Former Queensland premier Anna Bligh has been appointed the first female CEO of the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA), an industry group representing 25 banks across the country. Ms Bligh, a former Labor MP who was the first woman elected in her own right as a state premier in Australia and Queensland’s first female premier between 2007 and 2012, has been the CEO of the Young Women’s Christian Association in New South Wales. ABA chairman Andrew Thorburn said Ms Bligh’s focus would “firmly be on the culture within banking and lifting respect for our profession and creating a strong vision for customers and on how our industry responds and leads on regulatory reform”. Ms Bligh said she is looking forward to leading and shaping a very compelling package of change and reform that will allow the banking industry to restore trust and confidence in a system that is open, fair and transparent. Both Ms Bligh and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard were honoured this year as Companions of the Order of Australia. Julia Gillard said, “When I look back on my career in politics, the overwhelming emotion for me is one of gratitude to the Australian nation…[A place] where you can literally jump off a boat as a four-year-old, as a migrant, and end up as Australia’s prime minister — as the first woman to serve.” She will replace Jeff Kennett as the chair of the not-for-profit mental health organisation beyond blue.

After our intense week at CSW 61 in New York, Professor Jaya Dantas and I spoke at the National Women’s Democratic League in Washington DC on Global Voices for Women’s Empowerment; ex-student Viviane Furaha (photo) who won the Shirley Randell Award for the best masters student in the first cohort of the Rwandan Center for Gender, Culture and Development and now lives in Washington was able to participate, elaborating on her empowerment. As usual I stayed with friends, Professor Elaine Sarao and Paul Kervin, whom I met first in Rwanda. We went on to Norfolk where we gave a class presentation at the Old Dominion University – Jaya on feminist research methodologies, while I gave examples of some of our Centre graduates masters’ theses that used participative research methods. Once again we stayed with long-standing friends from Rwanda days, Professor Anita Fellman and Professor Ed Steinhart.

We then thoroughly spoiled ourselves with a short relaxing holiday in the Bahamas before returning to Australia.

My next speaking engagement is for the Sunflower Foundation Australia. As their patron I will be attending a fabulous evening at their Future Girl Cocktail Party on 29 April at The Point, 10 Aquatic Drive, Albert Park, known for its fine food and wines. So if you are in Melbourne do come along and bring your friends! Enjoy drinks and canapés, seriously talented musicians and bid on fantastic prizes in the live and silent auctions. Future Girl is about creating a future where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.  When girls can enjoy the right to an education, they are more likely to earn a higher income and reinvest that income into supporting their families and contributing to their communities. The proceeds of the event will fund projects at the Riley Orton Foundation’s Akili School for Girls and their new Mandaleo Hub for Community Education in Kenya, including entrepreneurship and computer literacy programs, sanitation infrastructure and environmentally sustainable farming and building initiatives. You can book on http://www.sunflowerfoundation.ngo/events.

I am back in my small Sydney apartment, centrally located near Hyde Park and enjoy being able to walk to most of my city commitments. From my building’s garage floor I was able to watch the 38th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, a kaleidoscope of diversity, politics, family, community and sexuality, led by a contingent of First Australians (photo) together with veterans of the first protest march in 1978. The theme for this year’s parade and festival was Creating Equality. There were 185 floats and more than 12,000 participants, many advocating marriage equality. The Australian Human Rights Commission’s float supported the UN Free & Equal campaign.
I keep promising myself shorter newsletters, but so much happens in a month in this world and I know you can pick and choose what is of interest to read.

Blessings of peace
Shirley Randell

‘The compensation of growing old [is] that the passions remain as strong as ever, but one has gained – at last! – the power which adds the supreme flavour to existence, – the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it around, slowly, in the light
Virginia Woolf

 

Newsletter – Sydney Feb 2017

Welcome to my New Year newsletter with warm greetings for a peaceful and prosperous 2017.

 

A special personal project for me this year is the assignment of depositing my papers for research purposes in the National Library of Australia’s special collections and reader services. After an initial meeting with pictures and manuscripts branch staff, I am now facing the timely but daunting task of sorting through records on my own.

I am currently unearthing treasures from the 1970s-90s that have been stored under my daughter’s house while I was working overseas, relating to various positions and work I was undertaking at the time. Unfortunately, the library can no longer afford internship assistance but have kindly supplied archival folders and manuscript boxes for the various newspaper cuttings, media releases, photos and cards accumulated over the years.

For this first 2017 newsletter, I elaborate on this project and then cover 2016 winners of Shirley Randell scholarships, women in sport, sad news about women’s recent deaths, the Women’s March, the Australia Day billboard, news about women around the world, then Australia, Africa, and the Pacific, finishing with a brief mention of my family in Asia and my travels.

In my document search I am being pleasantly reminded about my time in the 1970s and 1980s in several positions in Canberra, ranging from the Disadvantaged Schools Program, National Women’s Advisory Council, Equal Opportunity Unit of the Public Services Commission, ACT Schools Authority and the Australian College of Education (ACE – photos of when I was president, firstly with Jean Blackburn, recipient of the College medal, ACT school principals Julie Biles and Cheryl O’Connor at a national education conference, and below with the Australian Governor General Sir Ninian Stephen and Lady Stephen at the opening of the Canberra ACE headquarters). It is always a joy to revisit special memories shared with passionate reformers over the years. Among my Victorian memorabilia are the photos of many wonderful occasions and colleagues who shared various experiences and events in the 1990s, many associated with my time as dean at the Ballarat University College, CEO of the Council of Adult Education, and CEO of the City of Whitehorse.

I am also most grateful to a late dear friend of mine, Val Riseborough, who befriended us when Alan and I were working in a one-teacher school in Dudinin in Western Australia in 1964, and kept every newsletter I had written since 1966, when our family went abroad as volunteers to open the Methodist Teachers College in Papua New Guinea. I sent out monthly SOSs for donations, library books and volunteers to help build facilities, establish the library etc.

It has been great for me to find family photos (Erica’s 21st, 1985) that I am passing on to the children and grandchildren. I have kept records electronically since the early years of this century, and next month I have an appointment to see the National Library’s digital staff – sorting electronic materials in order should be easier.

 

Shirley Randell Scholarships.

When the students and staff of the Centre of Gender, Culture and Development at the University of Rwanda farewelled me in 2012, my senior lecturer Professor Gertrude Fester announced that she was sponsoring a Shirley Randell scholarship for the Centre’s Master of Gender and Development degree. There have been several donors for this scholarship, including international friends who participated in the two Women and Leadership Study Tours with me in Rwanda, and some people on my newsletter list as well as relatives. Eileen Menton, president of American Association of University Women, Maryland, Jeri Rhodes, president of the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund, New York and Dr Sharon Meagher, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Widener University, Pennsylvania are investigating establishing a Foundation for the Scholarship in USA.

Please let me know if you would like to contribute to this continuing learning opportunity for worthy Rwandan scholars.

Two wonderfully generous Rwandans who worked with me as volunteers to establish the Centre before we attracted funding are now beneficiaries. Josephine Musabyimana , a law graduate and a former deputy mayor of social affairs was the Centre’s volunteer secretary/administrative assistant, graduated, in December after completing a thesis on Community contemporary perceptions of female virginity: A case study of Gasabo District / Kigali City. Prisca Iraguha, an education graduate, teacher and businesswoman was the Centre’s research assistant and is now in her first semester of master’s studies.

Orlagh Latawski
Correct picture of Orlagh Latawski -20170730

The inaugural awardee of the Shirley Randell Social Science Scholarship at my old school, Perth Modern School (PMS) in Western Australia is Orlagh Latawski . Her achievements include being placed second from WA in the Interstate Numero Competition, and in the top three of Tim Winton young Writer’s Competition, when she was presented to the then prime minister, Julia Gillard. At PMS, Orlagh was chosen to attend a three-day leadership camp at Curtin University, was a school ambassador and organised a sleep-out to raise money for Youth of the Streets. She was chosen as the youngest member of the WA Debating League’s team squad and was runner up winner. Orlagh sits on the City of Melville Youth Advisory Council and gave an address at the United Nations Youth Voice competition. Not only was she a conference delegate at Shenton College for Amnesty International she is also a member of the PMS Student Council and seeks a political career – a very worthy champion. I am still waiting to hear the 2016 winner of my International Student award at the Mary White College of the University of New England, Armidale. It is a great pleasure to be involved in acknowledging and supporting these students’ accomplishments at the institutions that have meant so much in my life and career.

 

Women in Sport.

As ambassador of Women’s International Cricket League (WICL)/FairBreak, an initiative that exists to create education and performance opportunities in sport for women, I was delighted to attend the launch of our partnership with SolarBuddy, an Australian not-for-profit organisation with the goal of ending the devastating cycle of energy poverty for marginalised communities across the world. The photo illuminated by the SolarBuddy lights includes Subba Rao (and Dr Saryu) Varigonda, chair Council of Indian Australians, Geoff Lawson, WICL, Sachin Bajaj, director Cricket Club of India, Simon Doble, CEO SolarBuddy, John Ridge, ED Australian Computer Services (ACS), Kiah Leary, Edinburgh Business School, Brad Duce, Energe, Jackie Lauff, Sports Matters and Jimena De Uria, Symantec. SolarBuddy aims to educate Australian children about energy poverty, renewable energy and global citizenship and to help them to provide safe, reliable and effective solar energy solutions to communities who suffer from the limiting effects of energy poverty. School programs and partnerships connect communities across the globe, combining learning and education with assistance and aid. Nearly 20 percent of the world’s population has no access to electricity and some families spend up to 40 percent of their income on kerosene. Approximately two million children in developing nations die every year from respiratory diseases, many caused by kerosene fumes used for lighting. SolarBuddy lights are easy to assemble, only cost $30 + GST per light, including freight, customs duties and taxes, provide a transformational boost to family income, safety, health and learning and are widely used by the humanitarian agencies including AusAid and UNHCR. At our launch, John Ridge presented 600 SolarBuddies that ACS had sponsored and had been made in one day by students at Hilltop Road Primary School at Merrylands. The lights will go to the Sri Ayyappan School in Bangalore and other communities in India that are off the grid. You may know of a school or business or NGO that would be interested in participating in this program.

Another enjoyable sport function was the Primary Club of Australia’s Sydney Test Match breakfast held at the cricket stadium prior to the Australia versus Pakistan match that began on 3 January. It was a huge pleasure to attend with Caroline Falkiner, honorary secretary of the Club, and Jackie Lauff and Liesl Tesch AM, co-founders of Sports Matters for everyone for life. Liesl is a true inspiration (photo of her with Jackie, Osman Samiuddin, Pakistani journalist, Hon Stuart Ayres MP, NSW Minister for Sport, and Primary Club officials, Rick Glover, Mike Coward and Jim Maxwell). Liesl became an Australian wheelchair basketball player and sailor as an incomplete paraplegic after a mountain bike accident at the age of 19. She competed in her national wheelchair basketball team at five Paralympics, winning three medals, and was the first woman to play the sport professionally. Liesl took up sailing in 2010, winning gold medals at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Paralympics with partner Daniel Fitzgibbon.

The Primary Club is the cricketers’ charity providing sporting equipment and recreational facilities to people with disabilities. Almost $6 million has been raised since 1974 and donated to projects, including playground equipment, balls for blind cricket, horse-riding arenas, hydrotherapy pools and specialized yachts for people with special needs. Each time an Australian cricketer scores a primary (golden duck), members pay a $5 fine or donation to the charities trust. It was also a pleasure to meet the renowned Daphne Benaud (photo with Jackie, Daphne and Caroline) at the event.

In the women’s division, of the 2016 Commonwealth Bank Australian Country Cricket Championships, East Asia-Pacific team (photo) won the tournament final by eight wickets over Victoria Country, securing back-to-back women’s championships. East Asia-Pacific’s, Norma Ovasuru (42 not out) and captain Pauke Siaka (41 not out), both from Papua New Guinea, led their side to victory with an unbroken 98-run stand to chase down Victoria Country’s total of 99. Pauke was named captain of the women’s Australian Country XI. After going through the 2016 ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier, East Asia-Pacific was undefeated, and PNG also dominated the team of the tournament selections with six of their players chosen by selectors. Pauke was named player of the tournament based on umpire votes, and jointly topped the runs scorers with 109 runs at an average of 54.50 and a highest score of 53 not out.

At the Allan Border Medal Ceremony awards this week, Meg Laming, captain of the Southern Stars won the Belinda Clark Award for the Best–performed Woman for a third time, also taking out the inaugural award for Domestic Player of the Year. Laming won the women’s highest cricketing honour after registering 1100 runs for the Southern Stars at an average of 50, including three 100s and five 50s, beating contender Ellyse Perry by eight votes. Victoria and Renegades rising star Sophie Molineux was named the Betty Wilson Young Player of the Year, an award introduced this year to recognise a player aged 24 years or younger who had played 10 or fewer matches before 5 December 2015. The late Betty Wilson, one of Australia’s greatest all-rounders, was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame – she is already in the International Cricket Council Cricket Hall of Fame, one of only six women in history to feature in the ICC list. Wilson, who died in 2010 was the first cricketer – male or female to score 100 and take 10 wickets in a Test in 1958 – including the first hat trick by a woman in that form of the game.

The first edition of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) and its all-Sydney final in 2016 changed women’s cricket in Australia. The men and women were on the same stage in the Big Bash finals and Sydney Thunder captains Alex Blackwell and Mike Hussey received the WBBL and BBL trophies together (photo). Placing female cricketers on accessible and flashy platforms, the competition included big hits, impressive feats and plenty of tight finishes. Its intensity produced such high ratings that extra games were broadcast on TV, with many upgraded to mainstream channels. The influence was felt beyond national level too, with the Women’s Cricket Super League in England a result of Australia’s success; the Governor General’s XI introduced as an annual event; a number of young players promoted to debut for the Southern Stars; and the push for better pay resulting in NSW’s team being elevated to professional status. Nevertheless the reporting on the BBL so far in 2017 far exceeds that of WBBL.

The failure of the media to report women’s sport received more publicity following a day recently when there was more coverage of a stomach ache suffered by one male commentator of one men’s sport in the national news than there was for the entire gamut of women’s sports being played. Julie Tullberg who now teaches digital journalism at Monash University, said to sports producer Tracey Holmes on ABC NewsRadio:

“Yeah it’s pretty funny, I covered AFL many years ago for the Australian and I’ve been unwell but when I left the coverage no-one could be bothered writing about what I went through — if I was pregnant, or whatever — but with men, for someone live on air for a big event like a Test match, that’s newsworthy because they have such a large audience”.

Turn on the radio, television, or go online during the ‘summer of sport’ and there are updates galore on cricket, basketball and football (the round-ball variety). But until the commencement of the women’s football matches last week, which attracted record spectator crowds and impressive television ratings you would be excused for thinking only men play these games despite the fact there are concurrent women’s domestic competitions being played. In a country where there are four times as many journalists accredited to cover the AFL than federal politics, sport is a key component of the national culture. The past 18 months or so in Australia have been record breaking for women’s sport – new competitions, new pay deals and a new level of respect from sports bodies themselves. Let’s hope this will extend to day-to-day mainstream media coverage, , as already occurs for tennis.

In other sports news, the Bradman of women’s cricket: former Australian Test cricketer and NSW Women’s captain Joyce Dalton (circled) died aged 83. Joyce played for New South Wales in domestic cricket and in three tests for the Australian Women’s Cricket team in 1958, averaging 34.66 with a top score of 59 not out. In what was another era for women’s cricket, all the players were amateurs and the uniform was somewhat different to that of today!

 

In Memoriam.

Other deaths recently include pioneering astronomer Vera Rubin, who helped find powerful evidence of dark matter aged 88, and The Star Wars star, Carrie Fisher, aged 60 who was an important role model for women as an artist and as a feminist, because of the work she has done and the examples she set in her own life, giving candid and honest interviews about with her experiences with bipolar disorder and addiction, She provided inspiration and encouragement to the millions of people who struggle with mental illness by reminding us that we can still achieve our dreams. Carrie’s mother, Debbie Reynolds (photo) an American actor, singer, businesswoman, film historian, and humanitarian, died the next day aged 84.

Clare Hollingworth, the British correspondent who broke the news of the Nazi invasion of Poland that marked the beginning of WWII, aged 105 was a determined journalist who defied gender barriers and narrowly escaped death several times. She spent much of her career on the front lines of major conflicts, including in the Middle East, North Africa and Vietnam, working for British newspapers.

Closer to home, I lost a dear friend Margaret Edeson, aged 77 who was a classmate with me at PMS and more recently a lunch companion, despite her ill health, every time I visited Canberra. And Australian author, broadcaster and film-maker Anne Deveson AO, pioneer and social commentator in the mental health industry, the human rights, women’s rights and film and radio industry died aged 86. Anne was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014 and her death came three days after her daughter, novelist Georgia Blain (early photo), died after a long battle with brain cancer aged 52. At this time of my life I must expect such sad bereavements to become more frequent.

 

The Women’s March.

I joined the Women’s March in Sydney on the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in one of the first of hundreds of solidarity marches in over 30 countries, from Germany to East Timor, including Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The March was a grassroots movement that went global and was organised in Australia with the support of ActionAid, OzHarvest and Mums for Refugees. It was estimated that as many as 500,000 Americans marched in Washington in what was described as a human rights demonstration of historic proportions. Over 2.2 million more women are estimated to have marched in support in 161 cities across all seven continents and Antarctica. I marched in Sydney (photos) with 3,000 others, a march attended by men and women of all ages as well as children, which closed down Sydney’s city traffic. There were great speeches from singer and songwriter Amanda Palmer; Mariam Veiszadeh, senior manager, Inclusion & Diversity at Westpac Group; Wiradjuri elder Jenny Munro; Jane Caro, social commentator; and Tracey Spicer, radio, print and television journalist who chaired the event. The crowd included activist groups for causes such as Aboriginal land rights, gay rights, refugee rights and some unions, and drew support for the rights of women, minorities and immigrants, disabled and LGBTQI women, and female workers. Other marches in Australia’s capital cities also drew huge crowds – Melbourne up to 5,000 and several hundreds in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra.

I marched for women’s rights but many around the world were clearly marching as well against President Trump, despite his legitimate election. Instead of the 50:50 gender cabinet promised by Hillary Clinton, the Cabinet team and staffers that he has nominated to support him do not meet his promise to drain the swamp of the Washington establishment interests, many of whom represent the very special interests and elites he said he would expel.

Most are male, many are untested in public life, and many hold views that are antithetical to the responsibilities they will hold in public office. Exceptions include the appointments of former military men – General Mad Dog’ Mattis as Defence Secretary and General John Kelly as the Homeland Security Chief, and the nominations of Elaine Chao as Transport Secretary and former Governor Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador.

One speaker at the Sydney march drew a strong reaction from the crowd when she talked about the negative comments by some groups about an Australia Day billboard.

The controversial Melbourne billboard, depicting two Australian girls in hijabs celebrating Australia Day, was taken down due to abuse and threats on the advertising company. Advertising guru, Dee Madigan launched a crowd-funding appeal to have the billboard brought back and there was a stunning response. Within two hours on the first day, the GoFundMe appeal had raised $11,500 encouraging Ms Madigan, executive creative director with Campaign Edge, to revise her target of $20,000, to $50,000, and incrementally as donations increased, to raise it to $150,000. The total today stands at over $165,000 and the advertisement will now be featured in full-page newspaper advertisements in capitals in all the nation’s states and territories, and in street posters and billboards around the country.

 

Women around the world.

Women’s leadership reached a historic milestone in 2016: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May lead two of the world’s top economies. Elsewhere, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, and Janet Yellen, chair of the board of governors of the US Federal Reserve, are in charge of major global financial institutions. This represents a significant shift in gender dynamics in politics and the economy. António Guterres in his previous role as High Commissioner for Refugees, showed great leadership in supporting the cause of refugee education and has made achieving gender parity at the world body a priority of his tenure. He has appointed Nigeria’s environment minister, Amina Mohammed (photo) as his deputy and two other women to key leadership posts. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, a senior Brazilian foreign ministry official, will serve as Guterres’ chief of staff, and Kyung-wha Kang of South Korea has been appointed to the new position of special adviser on policy.

Former refugee Ilhan Omar became America’s first Somali-American Muslim woman legislator after she claimed a strong victory in the Minnesota House race. The 34-year-old moved to the US at the age of 12, after four years living in a Kenyan refugee camp following her escape from the Somali civil war. As well as her political duties, she is director of policy at the Women Organizing Women Network—a group that aims to empower all women, particularly first and second-generation immigrants, to become engaged citizens and community leaders.

After Pope Francis stating that he believed the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women becoming priests is forever and can never be changed, he appointed Barbara Jatta (photo) as the first woman ever to direct the Vatican Museums – the highest-ranking female administrator inside the Vatican. The very old boys club of cardinals and bishop take up most positions of power in the city-state but the Pope, who appointed the first woman deputy spokesperson to the Vatican press office in 2016, has told Vatican officials to start appointing women and lay people to top jobs in the Curia, the Holy See.

The first woman rabbi, Regina Jonas, ordained in Germany in 1935, served the Jewish community of Berlin and continued to help guide the Jewish community after her deportation to the Theresienstadt concentration camp – she died in Auschwitz. Since 1972, when rabbinical schools began ordaining women, women rabbis have transformed Jewish life around the world. The Jewish Women’s Archive has exhibited video clips of women rabbis from across the Jewish spectrum telling powerful stories about their role models and leadership styles, their faith and their families, and the challenges and blessings they have encountered along the way.

Rabbi-Elaine-Zecher-Temple-Israel-of-BostonMost recently, Elaine Zecher  became the first female Senior Rabbi of the historic Jewish congregation in the Temple Israel of Boston. She is a teacher, spiritual guide, community leader, platinum caliber mentor, cancer survivor, marathon runner, and mother of three. She is a nationally influential liturgist, whose work has reinterpreted her faith tradition for new generations, drafting and editing the core prayerbooks used daily and on high holy days nationwide in the largest of American Judaism’s streams.

 

Women in Australia.

Jackie Huggins (photo) Indigenous Australian author, historian, teacher, and beloved community activist of Bidjara Central Queensland and Birri-Gubba Juru North Queensland peoples is a ‘social justice warrior’ fighting the good fight, in style. Her work on reconciliation, Aboriginal rights, gender equality, and education has influenced generations of activists, feminists and community advocates. This celebration of her 60th birthday came on the eve of Breakthrough 2016; a two-day conference in Melbourne centred on the status of gender equality in Australia.

Rosemary Huxtable PSM (photo) is secretary of the Australian Department of Finance. She is responsible for a range of significant services delivered by Finance including supporting the delivery of the Australian Government Budget, oversight of the financial framework of Australian government agencies, shareholder aspects of government business enterprises and the ongoing management of the Australian Government’s non-defence domestic property portfolio and key asset sales.

Deer farmer, food blogger and journalist, Sophie Hansen took out the 2016 Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Rural Women’s Award. Her business My Open Kitchen, presents an online learning course which helps local food producers use social media to better connect with their consumers. Kate Palmer was appointed first woman CEO of the Australian Sports Commission after a very successful 10 year stint at Netball Australia.

As I write this, the 45th premier of New South Wales has been elected unopposed, former Deputy Premier and State Treasurer, Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP, just the second woman to run the biggest state. She is the daughter of migrants who came to Australia with limited English as survivors of the Armenian genocide. She signed off on the Government’s signature infrastructure projects, supports marriage equality and is compassionate towards the plight of refugees. The NSW Government agreed to resettle about 6,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees over two years, and the Premier has publicly supported this proactive approach. During her first media conference she was irrelevantly asked, as Julia Gillard had been, about being unmarried with no children. She responded that ‘the closest people in my life are my family’  and they joined her for the government investiture ceremony.

 

Women in Africa.

I recently learned that just eight men own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population and two people own as much as 20 percent of Australia’s population. With the population of seven southern African countries on the brink of starvation, warnings of potential genocide in South Sudan, and emerging health crises such as Zika taking a heavy toll, 2016 has been a devastating year for some of the world’s poorest countries. The continuing war in Syria and terrorism in the Middle East and around the world are horrific.

However, there has been some significant progress. The ratification of the Paris Climate Change Agreement by 114 countries covering 70 percent of global emissions agreement was a plus. The world has made incredible progress in its efforts to understand, prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, even though progress among the most marginalised and difficult-to-reach populations must be accelerated.

The Ebola vaccine has proved safe and effective in trials (photo). Sri Lanka is the latest country to be declared malaria free. The task of reducing the toll of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, which has 90% of cases and 92% of deaths, is hard and needs more resources The number of women in the world’s poorest countries using modern forms of contraception has jumped by more than 30 million in the past four years, with the most significant progress made in sub-Saharan Africa. Some 64% of women aged between 15 and 49 who are married or living with a partner are now using traditional or modern forms of family planning, up from 36% in 1970. Looking ahead to 2017, there is concern about the shifting aid agenda in the UK, and what the election of President Trump might mean for the developing world. One of the President’s first acts was to sign an executive order to stop funding health organisations that provide abortion advice and this may be only the start of his intentions to wind back the reproductive rights of women. According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 21 million women have unsafe abortions in the developing world each year. This accounts for about 13 percent of all maternal deaths. American money has helped 27 million women access contraceptives, thanks to $600 million of funding each year on international assistance for family planning and reproductive health.

UN Women deputy executive director, Lakshmi Puri, together with the Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, Harald Braun and the Permanent Observer of the African Union to the UN, Téte António, have launched the Women’s Leadership Initiative for Stability in Africa (photo). The two-year initiative, starting in 2017 and generously funded by the Government of Germany, aims to strengthen African women leaders’ capacity to build sustainable peace in the continent. It will establish a network of African women leaders, facilitate their participation in major international and regional events and invest in increasing African women’s participation in national electoral processes, among other measures. As noted by the Global Study on implementation of the UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1325, for peace to be sustainable and lasting, women must be included in all stages of the peace process—from prevention to negotiations, dialogue, peace building to recovery. Africa not only subscribes to the provisions of UNSCR 1325, but has also developed other continental instruments, such as the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women, commonly referred to as the Maputo Protocol and the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa. To date, 19 African Union Members States have developed National Action Plans on its implementation. Targeting women in leadership positions in politics, the public sector, business, and civil society and the media, the new initiative will support women in conflict and post-conflict countries in Africa, those involved in building and supporting infrastructures for peace and conflict prevention, as well as those engaged in reconciliation, reconstruction and stabilization processes.

 

Women in the Pacific.

There are still no women in the Tongan or Vanuatu national parliaments, and the Pacific region has the lowest representation of women in the world, so it is pleasing to see women being recognised in government positions in Tonga. Three women have been appointed to CEO positions for the next four years: Fekita ‘Utoikamanu Tupou, who has been working for many years for regional organizations including the South Pacific Commission and the University of the South Pacific, has assumed duty as CEO of the Ministry of Tourism. Polouini Fa’otusia has been appointed the CEO of Finance and National Planning and takes over from Tatafu Moeaki who has taken up a regional assignment based in Nuku’alofa. Susana Faletau has been appointed to the position of CEO for the Ministry of Justice where she once held the post before her term expired. These women CEOs are in addition to other women already in the top government positions such as ‘Ana Bing Fonua of Internal Affairs, Dr Lia Maka of the Public Service Commission and Dr Palenitina Langa’oi – chief secretary and secretary to Cabinet.

Vietnam and Cambodia.

Vietnam is currently recovering from a crippling drought in the Mekong Delta from late 2015-2016, the worst drought in nearly 100 years, caused in part by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific known as El Niño. I joined eight children and grandchildren on a Christmas holiday visit to Vietnam and Cambodia and we faced the opposite problem with widespread deadly floods that affected the central region of Vietnam – at least 13 people died. Both disasters have humanitarian aid and development assistance issues – improving drinking water safety and hygiene and sanitation practices, providing food aid for the most vulnerable people and dealing with agricultural, roads and school damage. Integrated planning for climate adaptation, especially working with young people who will be the future leaders on these issues, focuses on education as a platform to raise awareness about climate change, and stresses the importance of including adaptation in curriculum, such as new forms of irrigation, new types of seeds and plant awareness. Medium-to-long-term strategies are just as important as immediate relief and equipping communities with the tools, knowledge and mechanism to adjust to a new normal.

We had a splendid time together on an itinerary organised by longstanding friends, Dianne Longson (ex Rwanda) for Vietnam and Dr Vin McNamara (ex PNG in the 60s!) in Cambodia, only slightly dampened by the floods in central Vietnam, but this was also an adventure, wading through water and realising again that we are so fortunate to live in Australia. Our experiences visiting the War Museum in Ho Chi Minh City and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia brought memories of our visits to the genocide memorials in Rwanda. Over 15,000 prisoners were detained in the compound during the Pol Pot regime from 1975 to 1979. The Democratic Kampuchea is estimated to have claimed well over 1 million lives– through execution, starvation and disease – as the Khmer Rouge turned Cambodia back to the middle ages. The Museum is engaging with the country’s harrowing past and establishing a dialogue of social reconciliation and healing for the country. The Cambodian Minister of Culture stresses the need for education to respect and protect cultural diversity which he maintains is necessary for the survival of Cambodia, as are the government policies on ethnic and religious groups and their freedom to express their culture and practice their custom and religions.

I will be travelling on 11 March to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women’s 61st meeting (UNCSW61). Professor Dr Jaya Dantas and I last presented together at the Graduate Women International General Assembly in August (photo) and we will be again be presenting a parallel session in New York, this time on how education and sport can lead to women’s economic empowerment (WEE) and improve health for women and families. WEE is a global policy priority as it contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals. WEE allows women equal access to and control over economic resources, and leads to increased investments in children’s education and health, and reduces household poverty.

Economic empowerment is possible through education and entrepreneurship. Women entrepreneurs challenge gender norms, inspire and act as role models. Similarly, sport builds leadership, self-esteem, and courage in women. The cascade effect of sport, continues off the field and women become physically stronger, and healthier and develop skills of teamwork, physical and social development. Sport challenges gender stereotypes, brings together women from different cultures, and promotes respect.

We will present narratives from Australia, Rwanda and Bangladesh on empowerment through education, health and sport, speaking in New York – UNCSW61 on 15 March;  Washington – Women’s National Democratic Club on 20 March; Norfolk – Old Dominion University on 22 March; and Cuba – National Institute of Public Health on 27 March in New York, Washington, Norfolk and Cuba, returning to Australia on 31 March.

Please let me know if you are on our route and we could speak at a university, VGIF, WG-USA or AAUW group along the way.

And finally, a quote by Dr Jane Goodall (photo), British primatologist, ethnologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace to close this newsletter:

“You can’t get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

 

Blessings of love, joy and peace for 2017

Shirley

 

Newsletter – Sydney Dec 2016

Welcome to my Christmas newsletter with warm greetings for happy holidays and a great new year.

A special celebration for me in this quarter was the launch of the book edited by Julie Ankers, ‘Feisty, Fabulous and 50+’, short life stories of women, including mine, and available from Gleebooks and Amazon.

In my semi-retirement I am working with colleagues to refresh my website, Facebook page, and newsletter presentation. In 2017 I expect to send a much shorter letter more frequently.

For this fourth long 2016 newsletter, I have concentrated on women in sport, news about women in Australia, United States, Africa and Asia, and the usual contribution of my family to a brief summary of their year.

Read on if you have the time and the interest.

Continue reading “Newsletter – Sydney Dec 2016”

Newsletter – Sydney Sept 2016

Dear Friends

shirley_2014As many of you have commented, I am enjoying a ‘partial’  retirement! I have so appreciated more relaxed time with family,  interspersed with travel and learning, including this current
challenging camping African Safari Kiboko Adventures ‘Great Trek’ through South Africa (SA), Namibia, Botswana, finishing at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, even larger than the Augrabise Falls
we viewed in SA. Before this trip I have been free to attend conferences, give lectures, and catch up and spend time with many special friends in Antibes, Paris, Devon, Leicester, Oxford, London, Japan, Korea, Rwanda and various Australian cities.

I anticipate that this may be my last year of such extensive travel. Bangladesh. There is overwhelming evidence that globally inspired terrorism has come to Bangladesh. The security situation I described in detail in my last newsletter has deteriorated further with the shocking torture and slaughter of 20 people in a favourite restaurant very close to my former home in the Gulshan diplomatic area. This organised
machete murder by Islamic terrorists (ISIS has claimed responsibility) of seven Japanese
construction workers on an infrastructure project, nine Italian business people in clothing and
textiles, a Sri Lankan and three university students on holiday from US – two Bangladeshis and an
Indian – has horrified both nationals and foreigners, who have always been made so welcome.
Scarcely a week later there was another bomb attack and massacre. Bangladesh has learned to cope
with repeated disasters of cyclones, floods, river erosion and wars, showing resilience and capacity
to rebuild their lives, but this new disaster of horrifying and senseless killings is something new.
People are targeted for being progressive, agnostic, followers of minority faiths, gay, anything that
is offensive to the literalistic Koranic interpretation of ISIS’s religious leadership. The government
seems powerless to know how to contain the violent extremism and deal with law and order
challenges. The rule of law is being undermined by a deeply politicised, dysfunctional criminal
justice system that allows suspects to be arrested and prosecuted without due process. Bangladesh
urgently needs political stability to be restored, security ensured, the constitutional right to free
speech and dissent respected, political interference in the justice system ended, and the criminal
justice system modernised. Not only are these latest incidents a serious threat to internal security
and people’s safety they are also disastrous for Bangladesh economic growth, business and future
investment as other diplomatic posts follow Australia’s earlier lead of sending home volunteers and
families of civil servants. (Australia has lifted its security warning for the whole country to
‘Reconsider your need to travel’). Many of my Italian, Sri Lankan and German friends in
infrastructure and the garments industry who lost colleagues have left. No doubt those considering
investment in the country will be having second thoughts. A happier Bangladesh-related highlight
for me was my visit to Japan to stay with long-standing friend Baby Rani Karmarkar, First Secretary
at the Bangladesh embassy following the International Rotary Convention in Korea. It was Baby
Rani’s last weeks in Tokyo and I was privileged to attend her farewell parties. She is now back in
Dhaka, promoted Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare & Overseas Employment.
Rwanda. A great joy was the opportunity to squeeze in a short visit to Rwanda between
participating in the Graduate Women International’s General Assembly & Triennial Conference in
Cape Town and the Kiboko Southern Africa ‘Great Trek’. In seven days in Kigali I was able to renew
friendships and undertake some activities in connection with two of my new roles in Australia. As
Ambassador of the Women’s International Cricket League, I met with officials of the Rwanda
Cricket Club to discuss planning for an education and opportunity coaching workshop for the four
top women cricketers from each of six African countries, which we propose to jointly sponsor next
year. I am now on the Board and Chair the Development Sub Committee of indigo foundation, a
similar organisation to the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund in New York, from which I
recently retired after nine years on the Board and its committees. One of indigo foundation’s most
successful projects is its support for Club Rafiki that runs a very successful hip-hop dance school and
teaches participants about sexual and reproductive health, including HIV and STD prevention.
Situated in the Nyamirambo sector, 50% of adolescent girls who come to the Club are already
pregnant. Early pregnancy is also one of the concerns mentioned to me by both the Minister for
Education, Hon Dr Papias Musafiri and the Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Hon Dr Diana
Gashumba. Other recently appointed dynamic leaders are the Vice Chancellor University of Rwanda,
Prof Dr Phillip Cotton and Deputy VC Ambassador Dr Charles Murigande who returned from service
as Rwandan Ambassador to Japan, including Australia, part of an excellent executive team with
huge challenges in consolidating quality in the amalgamated university. As a member of the
Advisory Councils of Paper Crown and Akilah Institute for Women I was especially thrilled to visit
with Akilah’s program manager and students and hear
reports of continuing great progress. It was a privilege to
present awards to the Shirley Randell Best Masters
Graduates for cohorts three (Jean Paul Safari) and four
(Ambassador Soline Nyirahabimana -photo) of the Master
of Gender and Development (MGD) program at a
ceremony hosted by my distinguished successor, Director
Dr Jolly Rubagiza at the Centre for Gender Studies. I met
with the first Shirley Randell MGD Scholarship holder,
Josephine Musabiyama who will graduate shortly. I also
attended my old Rotary Club of Kigali Doyen, and spoke
at the election of a reinvigorated Rwandan Association of
University Women Council, with a new chair, Donatha
Gihana, an MGD graduate who has won the 2016 Award for the most influential woman in Business
and Government. In between these appointments ex-colleagues, ex-students and new friends hosted
me for meals and African teas.
Women in Politics. The Australian Government was very narrowly returned to office after one term
and this election made history with a record of 73 women, four more women than the last
Parliament, and six more than 2010. Women make up 32% of Australia’s federal politicians and the
country is now ranked 49th in the world for representation of women in parliament. The Turnbull
Government’s poor record of women in government deteriorated further – six women in Cabinet and
10 across the full front bench. Just 13 of the Coalition’s slim 76-seat majority are women. At a time
when the number of women on major boards and in powerful positions around the world is
increasing, the Coalition has its lowest representation of women in 20 years. Prime Minister
Malcolm Turnbull will have huge challenges balancing conservative and liberal views. He has
announced a ten year gender diversity plan to meet the Liberal Party’s target of 50% female MPs by
2025. The plan includes mentoring and targets for state branches but no quotas. On the other hand,
through its system of gender quotas, 40% for pre-selections since 1994 and standing women in safe
seats, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has made serious and sustained progress in getting women
elected. The majority of the 43 women in our 150-member House of Representatives will sit with
Labor. Opposition leader Bill Shorten has announced his new front bench, 13 women and 19 men, as
well as another seven female assistant shadow ministers in the 16 assistant shadow minister roles –
20 women across the full team of 48, with eight women in the shadow Cabinet. Victorian MP Clare
O’Neil, a Harvard University graduate who once served as Australia’s youngest-ever female mayor, is
on the front bench in the justice portfolio. Queensland MP Claire Moore takes on international
development. Women ministers also have responsibility for disability and carers, primary, TAFE,
vocational and early childhood education, women, foreign affairs, health, family services, ageing
and mental health, small business and financial services, veterans’ affairs, and communications.
When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked why it was so important that his Cabinet
was gender balanced he said, “because it’s 2015.” US democratic presidential nominee Hillary
Clinton has also declared half her Cabinet would be women. While the new frontbench line-up in
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Government features fewer women than David Cameron’s, she
does have eight. In my opinion, only quotas will significantly change things for women in politics
and on boards otherwise the power brokers will not give way. Merit still comes up as an argument
against quotas, that people just want the “right person for the job” rather than somebody put there
because of their gender. But in politics particularly, there seems nothing meritocratic about a
system where success essentially relies on personal and professional connections or state or
party/faction quotas. A welcome change is the Northern Territory (NT) Parliament where after the
recent elections the ALP holds 18 of the 25 seats, eight of which are women. There are five
independents, two of whom are women and two from the Country Liberal Party, one woman and
one man; in total, there are 11 women in the NT Parliament or 44%. The Cabinet is made up of
eight ministers, five of whom are women. As Chief Minister Michael Gunner said “This Labor Cabinet
mirrors the diversity, aspirations and life experience of Territorians and is a watershed in Australian
political history with over 60 per cent of Cabinet positions now held by women.”
Women and Sport. Australian Winter Olympic teams have had at least an equal number of men and
women competing in Vancouver and Sochi but for the first time ever we have achieved gender
parity with more than half of our Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympic team represented by women
(214:207). The eight female rowers that replaced Russian athletes at the last minute tipped the
scales in favour of our women. It was also pleasing to
see women in leadership roles this year, including
our flag bearers Anna Meares (opening ceremony),
Kim Brennan (photo-closing ceremony and gold
medal rower), Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller, coaches
and commentators. It sends a positive message to
Australian women and demonstrates the variety of
roles they can play within sport. While we have
certainly come a long way, there is still much work
to be done before gender equality in sport can be
achieved, from the absence of women coaches,
including rowing, and the pay gap between female and male athletes remaining high, to the failure
of many sporting clubs to offer women their own changing rooms. The Victorian Government has
taken a lead by offering grants of up to $100,000 for sports clubs to improve their female-friendly
facilities. Gina Rinehart is one of very few female billionaires in the world who is a generous
supporter of a select group of sportswomen and men. She was seen at various venues across the
Olympic Games including swimming, volleyball and rowing. Rinehart’s reportedly gifted at least
AUD5million to four teams and several athletes, and is clearly a big fan of seeing Australians
compete on the world stage. Her favourite sport seems to be synchronised swimming, as she
flew the team to Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island to perform at her daughter’s wedding in June and
then for workers at her Roy Hill mine. Tokyo will host the 2020 Games and the city has just elected
its first female Governor, Yuriko Koike, former Defence Minister who will take on the responsibility
of preparation and has said she will ensure that both men and women will shine. Less than 10% of
members of parliament are women in Japan’s lower house. In other women’s sporting achievements,
the Rugby Sevens won gold in the Olympics (photo) and Chloe Hosking won the women’s Tour de
France. A Coxless Crew, of four women aged between 25 and 40 rowed from San Francisco on a 29-
foot bright pink rowing boat ‘Doris’ for the 15,640-kilometre odyssey to Australia. They rowed 24
hours a day in two-hour shifts, stopping only in Honolulu in Hawaii and Apia in Samoa for up to a
week at a time to re-stock before setting off again, spending 235 days at sea. British aviator Tracey
Curtis-Taylor, 53, single-handedly piloted the 1942 Boeing Stearman biplane for 27,000-kilometres
across 23 countries over the course of three months from UK to Australia. She flew across the
Mediterranean Sea to Jordan, over the Arabian Desert, across the gulf of Oman to Pakistan, through
India and on to Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia before crossing the Timor Sea and
landing in Darwin. The flight was modelled after Amy Johnson, the first female pilot to fly solo from
Britain to Australia in 1930. In women’s cricket, Ellyse Perry polled 33 votes to claim the Belinda
Clark Award ahead of two-time winner Meg Lanning (20), who led the Southern Stars for runs and
wickets in a 10-match voting period. 25-year-old Perry scored 375 runs and took 17 wickets for
Australia in 2015, while she captained the Sydney Sixers in the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League
season. Cricket Australia (CA) has signalled that “diversity will continue to be an area of strong
focus” for the sport moving forward, especially given the significant rise in women players over the
last few years, now comprising nearly a quarter of cricket’s playing base. CA has recognised that as
such they are entitled to a fairer slice of the pay pie: $4.23 million is to be spread among 120
women cricketers, and has contributed a $4 million funding boost for female cricket, particularly
focused on teenage participation. In women’s football, this month’s All-Stars women’s game
between the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne delivered
bumper television ratings, with an average of 746,000
viewers (metro and regional) tuning in nationally, peaking
at 1.05 million viewers and won its timeslot across all key
demographics in Melbourne, where it averaged 387,000
viewers. It was the largest overall average audience in
Melbourne of any game during the 2016 home and away
season and also featured on social media, taking Twitter by
storm. The highly entertaining clash showcased the best
women’s talent ahead of next year’s inaugural National
Women’s Football League. The Australian Football League
(AFL) reports that female participants comprise 25%, there are 629 dedicated female football
teams, and the number had grown 27% over the previous period. 163 new female teams were
developed in 2015. AFL has increased women player’s pay – $5,000 salary for the vast majority of
the players but it is still way behind the men’s. That amount includes training (which is capped at 9
hours per week because otherwise the amount will fall below the minimum hourly wage). Players
are also expected to pay for their own health insurance, estimated to be $2500, and, because
nobody can live on $5000 a year, the amount will also be taxed at a higher rate as it will be a
second income. Meanwhile Netball is seeking to cement its status as the number one Australian
sport for women by signing a pay deal that offers landmark family-friendly conditions and pay. The
new National Netball League next year will see 80 players share a pool of almost $5.5 million and it
is hoped the sport could become fully professional within five years. Under the new collective
bargaining agreement, the average salary for netballers will rise from about $40,000 to $67,500,
and the minimum wage more than doubles to $27,375. The deal includes breakthrough conditions,
like clubs paying for children under 12 months old and a carer to travel to games with players,
private health insurance, income protection for up to two years in the event of injury or pregnancy.
Indigenous issues. There were ten indigenous women in Australia’s Olympic team this year and
diversity also improved in Parliament with three new Aboriginal members, including Senator
Malarndirri McCarthy from NT and Hon Linda Burney, our first Indigenous woman to be elected to
the Lower House and a former deputy leader in the NSW parliament, immediately taking the human
services portfolio. She delivered her poignant and momentous political maiden speech as the Labor
MP for the NSW seat of Barton. The National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee
(NAIDOC) 2016 gala night, recognised ten outstanding people, giving the Female Elder of the Year
award to MaryAnn Bin-Sallik, the first Aboriginal nurse graduate to begin her training as a nurse in
Darwin at the age of 17 and the first to complete a doctorate at Harvard University. Professor Chris
Sarra who began the Stronger Smarter Institute that aims to improve the delivery of Indigenous
education and education outcomes while enriching cultural identity, was awarded Person of the
Year. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Stephen Page for his work as Director of Bangarra
Dance Theatre that began as a small Aboriginal dance company and is now an internationally
recognised organisation. Among his achievements was the choreography of the 2000 Sydney Olympic
opening and closing ceremonies. Talented opera singer, Deborah Cheetham, is the first indigenous
woman to write and direct an opera – the poignant ‘Pecan Summer’ now showing at the Opera House
and involving an indigenous cast. The production, tells the story of Alice, a cheeky Indigenous girl of
11-years-old, who is forcibly removed from loving parents to become part of the stolen generation.
Women in Australia. Frances Adamson is the first female secretary of the Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade and one of the country’s most powerful public servants. She is a former Australian
ambassador to China and has held positions all over the world, including in Hong Kong, Taipei and
London. With Adamson’s appointment, we now have a record-breaking seven female department
heads. Women make up just over a third of diplomatic posts, despite accounting for more than 50%
of DFAT’s full workforce. The department launched a ‘Women in Leadership’ strategy in November
last year to increase this with managers undergoing unconscious bias training along with a flexible
work trial. It set a goal of having women in 43% of senior executive band one positions by 2020, up
from 36%. Kym Peake’s appointment as head of the Department of Health and Human Services in
Victoria has doubled the number of female secretaries. Claire Rogers has been appointed first
female Australia CEO of World Vision, Australia’s largest international development and
humanitarian agency at a time of ongoing and significant humanitarian disasters across the world.
Family. One of the great joys of this part-retirement life is
having time with the family. I was delighted to be in
Canberra with son Douglas at my grandson Nathan’s
Bachelor of International Security graduation at the
Australian National University. Chancellor Gareth Evans
who I worked with in the 1970s officiated. Nathan’s
mother Julie was in Ethiopia volunteering and his wife
Kaylin in Wyoming still negotiating her visa to rejoin him in
Australia. Three grandchildren, Isabella, Jessicca and
Alicia viewed the Frida Kalo/Diego Riviera exhibition at
the Art Gallery of New South Wales with me and we have
monthly family dinners with the two Sydney children Ellen
and Adam and five grandchildren, including Emilia and Harry. Ellen took a crew to the Olympic
Qualification Regatta in Europe but they were not fast enough for selection for Rio. Andrew’s crews
did make it and he was in Rio for the Olympics, coaching the men’s double scull that won the small
final – seventh in the world – and the reserve women’s single sculler who rowed in the Women’s
Eight. After Rio he joined Vicky to look after Beatrix and Matilda (photo together again) while
Vicky’s crew trained to perform in the Under 23 World Championships
in Rotterdam where her single sculler came fifth in the world. They
are now with Vicky’s family in England. I did not attend the Olympics
to watch Andrew’s races this time as I was in South Africa for the
Graduate Women International Conference in Cape Town and also
attended a wonderful memorial service for cousin Ree Izett that
celebrated her vast array of contributions to the arts in Victoria. After
Erica’s Monaco art exhibition she took me to Paris and then the Lakes
District in England where we had an amazing week together in that
beautiful part of the UK. Ian has recently completed a book on the
history of Aboriginal Art in Australia, Rattling Spears. I am settling
back into Australia, visited The Sunflower Foundation, and assisted
judging Indigenous participants and people with disabilities for the
Australian Council of Leadership for Women 2016 Diversity Awards – I
am patron for both organisations. I am also enjoying a new role as a
representative of Women Chiefs of Enterprise on the Economic Security for Women Council, one of
the Australian Government’s National Women’s Alliances. I have rejoined The Women’s Club, just a
short walk through the fabulous trees of Hyde Park from my apartment, and am participating in
some interesting ‘circles’ – discussion groups on the arts, politics, along with enjoying easy access
to the harbour, opera house, art gallery, museum, cinema and film festival events. 16 September 2016 SRIA Rwanda Ltd
Most of us undervalue the contribution we can make to a better world. We compare our humble
efforts to the greater talents of others. We may feel we are not making enough progress, are
ineffective or that our ordinary daily acts are insignificant. The truth is that collectively we all can
contribute to creating a better world. It is in accumulative small acts of kindness, courage, support
and perseverance that positive change is generated and the empowerment of the downhearted,
under-privileged, subjugated and marginalised is thus nurtured and achieved. Our acts today may
seem no more than a tiny pebble dropped into an ocean of obstacles, but the ripple effect of one
pebble can be far reaching and uplifting, touching others in ways we never imagined. As we
continue our seemingly small, ‘ordinary’ contributions throughout the day, others are watching and
are influenced. Together we can create a powerful ripple of effect. Let us acknowledge and
compliment each other when we witness positive words, behaviours, actions, and attitudes. Too
often we do not make the effort to tell people that they are appreciated or to call out
discrimination. We must recognise that millions of ‘extraordinary-ordinary’ daily acts performed by
multitudes of people have the power to change the world. Every pebble of progress makes its
contribution to the generation of powerful waves of change and hope for the future.
In October Julie Ankers is launching her publication Feisty, Fabulous and 50+. My contribution talks
about ‘Coming Full Circle’ and I am experiencing this again as we travel through the Namibian
deserts on corrugated roads that are bringing back memories of the first years of our marriage
where we travelled 1000 miles north of Perth to and from the primary school we opened in
Nullagine that enrolled many desert Aboriginal children. Lions, elephants and rhinoceroses are
rather different from kangaroos, emus and bush turkeys but the sparse dusty landscapes
interspersed with magnificent canyons are similar. Recently I was reintroduced to one of Rainer
Maria Rilke’s glorious poems that captures an essence or potential of circles and this communal
spirit: the translation by Joanna Macy is especially wonderful:
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song.
Blessings, Shirley

Newsletter – Bangladesh April 2016

Dear Friends

shirley_2014I began this newsletter in Australia on International Women’s Day (IWD) and my birthday on 8 March and it is now over a month later! I have decided to retire after 20 years of long working periods overseas in the Pacific, Asia and Africa. Of course I expect to still undertake shortconsultancies and public speaking involving some travel, and in this vein enjoyed a short visit toBrisbane to speak to early IWD functions. These were at theinvitations of my longstanding friend Elaine Roberts, Chair ofthe Women’s Group of the Queensland Chapter of the Instituteof Project Management, and Ranjeny Thomas and JohnLoneragan, niece and nephew, members of the Faith WorksUniting Church. On 12 March I travelled to the 60th UnitedNations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60) meetingsin New York with my colleague Jaya Dantas, where wepresented together as usual, this time on Global Case Scenarios:Implementation of rights based approaches to enhanceeffective education of women. Jaya was on the GraduateWomen International (GWI) delegation and I was a member ofthe Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund delegation. On 19March I joined my daughter Erica Izett, who curated onesegment of the splendid summer season Aboriginal Artexhibition at the Oceanographique de Monaco. After theopening (photo with Erica and Ian McLean) we began a holidayvisit together to Antibes, Paris, London and the Lakes District inthe UK, where we enjoyed wonderful scenery and excursions.Erica then joined a meditation retreat while I visited relativesand friends near Plymouth. I will go on to give lectures at the Oxford and Leicester universitiesfollowed by three days in London where I will catch up with other friends and speak to meetings ofZonta International and GWI. We will be back in Australia on 22 April. I will be leading anotherWomen in Leadership tour in South Africa in August/September: check http://www.globalengagement.org/volunteer/leadership/women-leadership-south-africa/for those interested.I was also privileged this year to attend IWD events and birthday celebrations in Sydney. The mostwell attended event was the UN Women breakfast with 2000 women and men. IWD acclaims whathas been achieved worldwide for women but also assesses how much more is still needed to reachequality. Ellen Randell came with me to the lunchtime debate on Men and women are alreadyequal organised by the Institute of Management. Of course the negative team won an extremelyhumorous debate. The root of most gender inequalities can be traced from birth to early childhoodand education, and the fight for gender equity is global. The UN Educational, Scientific andCultural Organization has published the eAtlas of Gender Inequality in Education, showing howcountries compare on dozens of indicators for gender equality in schools. For many the picture isbleak: In 14 countries, more than 30 percent of girls are out of school, with 62 million girls deniedthe right to education. There are 30 countries where fewer than 80 girls (and in some cases fewerthan 50) for every 100 boys enrolled. Some half a billion women cannot read and 155 countries stillhave laws that discriminate against women. Policies are needed to support female economicempowerment: access to electricity, connectivity, education and justice, so girls and women havethe right to own property, start a business and decide when and whether to marry. CSW60 agreedconclusions state: “The Commission reaffirms that the realization of the right to education contributes to thepromotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, human rights, sustainable developmentand poverty eradication. The Commission notes with concern the lack of progress in closing gender gaps in accessto, retention in, and completion of secondary schooling, which is key to the achievement of gender equality andthe empowerment of women and girls and the realization of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, aswell as enabling other positive social and economic outcomes, therefore all women and girls must enjoy access tolifelong learning opportunities and equal access to quality education at all levels – early childhood, primary,secondary and tertiary education, as well as technical and vocational training.”Bangladesh. My last assignments in Dhaka from 2014-15 were not nearly as pleasant as my time in2004-5, because of considerable restrictions on my movements. The advice from the AustralianDepartment of Foreign Affairs and Trade recommended its citizens avoid walking and travel byrickshaws or CNGs, and travel only in a car, stay in the diplomatic quarter and avoid eveningfunctions. My last month made up for the previous 15, as I was generously farewelled by so manyfriends and colleagues. I have many pleasant memories but grieve that so much in the countryneeds attention. It is heartening that Bangladesh made some notable progress in meeting its socioeconomictargets in 2015. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization termed Bangladesh the mostsuccessful country in South Asia in the areas of agriculture and food security. Bangladesh has alsobeen recognised as a lower-middle income country due to an increase in per capita income. Otherpositive developments on include the progress in the trial of crimes against humanity, theenactment of good legislation, the framing of labour regulations, the approval of domestic workersprotection policy, and implementation of the land boundary agreement with India.However, human rights indicators worsened in many other areas. The BNP-led 20-party alliancebegan a countrywide strike and blockade as the ruling party refused to allow the alliance to hold arally in January 2015 to raise its demands for cancelling the boycotted January polls of 2014 andholding fresh elections. The blockade continued for two months and it was reported that arsonattacks claimed the lives of at least 70 people, with at least 812 incidents of political violence.While common people were getting killed in political violence, various state forces were involvedin abduction, arbitrary arrest and torture, and 192 extra-judicial executions in the name ofcrossfire and encounter continued throughout the year. Six people died in the custody of lawenforcers and five during arrest, while three committed suicide after arrest; 68 people died in jailcustody and others became disabled after being shot, allegedly by law enforcers. The authorities,however, deny such allegations. Bangladesh jails are overburdened with political prisoners. Manyfamilies claimed that men identifying themselves as members of law enforcement agencies pickedup their relatives. Last year, at least 55 people fell victims to forced disappearance. Of them, thebodies of eight were recovered later, seven were shown arrested, and five returned to theirfamilies. The whereabouts of the rest still remains unknown. The authorities, however, haveneither issued any statements on such incidents nor initiated any investigation.The rise of religious extremism in 2015 in Bangladesh is also a matter of grave concern. The killingof foreigners, death threats to Christian priests, bomb attacks on Hossaini Dalan in Dhaka andAhmadiyya mosque in Rajshahi, and a gun attack on Bogra Shia mosque created a sense of anxietyamong people. Criminals vandalised and set fire to 104 houses and Hindu temples, and destroyed213 idols across the country. Besides the killing of freethinkers, bloggers, writers, and publishers,progressive politicians, intellectuals and journalists received death threats. The government triedto control freedom of opinion through legal means, and showed a tendency to harass peoplethrough the Information and Communication Technology Act.Three journalists were killed, 18 others suffered repression at thehands of law enforcers, nearly 250 journalists fell victims toviolence. The law has been used and abused to harass journalists,as well to arrest dissenting voices, including a young corporateofficial for ‘satirical comments about government officials’ and’hurt to the image of the nation’. Last week a seventh activistadvocating for the constitution’s secular society was hacked todeath by machetes and then shot. This law student was againstIslamic fundamentalism, an outspoken atheist and a loud voiceagainst any social injustice. At the same time, one strong womanwho has also shown exceptional courage and leadership inadvocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality andwomen’s empowerment in Bangladesh is Barrister Sara Hossain, who was honoured this month asone of the 14 2016 US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage. Other challenges for Bangladesh include child marriage. Despite being illegal, almost one third ofall girls marry before they are 15 years old. Their futures are not good – many face dangerouschildbirth, even death, sexual violence and virtual slavery. Road fatalities are also a majorcatastrophe. At least 9,000 people were killed and 22,000 others injured in road crashes across thecountry in 2015. Nearly 7000 road crashes were reported in the newspapers, although it isestimated that around 40 percent of the total accidents do not get media attention. Around 60percent of the victims killed in urban areas were pedestrians. Overtaking, exceeding speed limits,overloading, disregarding traffic rules, engineering faults in road constructions, reckless driving,using headphones while driving, and consuming drugs before driving were some of the factors heldresponsible for the accidents.Earthquakes. In Dhaka, we felt the shocks of the Nepal earthquake and many residents areterrified of the possibility of an earthquake directly hitting Bangladesh. Regardless of themagnitude and distance of the earthquake, if the ground shaking reaches more than VII on theModified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale then much infrastructure is likely to be damaged ordestroyed. Dhaka is a megacity that continues to expand. It is densely populated with an averagepopulation of 45,000 per square km and is extremely ill-planned. After liberation, buildings wereerected using the arching method in the low-lying areas on the riverside humus soil in the east andwest. These attractive, multi-storey buildings were constructed using faulty designs with thebottom floor as a parking space that easily collapses during tremors. An overwhelming number ofbuildings have flouted the 1993 Bangladesh National Building Code, exceeding the number of floorsallowed, largely to accommodate the growing number of people. For owners of these buildings, ithas meant more money but there is a history of collapsed buildings resulting from thesemalpractices. To put this into perspective, in the event of an earthquake of a magnitude of 5-6 onthe Richter scale, the historical memory of the 1880s great earthquakes beneath Dhaka city, thecurrent population of 15 million and widespread brick masonry, the non-engineered and poorlyconstructed buildings would be hit worse than ever. Such a catastrophe could even lead toabandonment of the city.Rwanda. I continue to enjoy speaking about Rwanda andBangladesh during my travels (Photo with Jaya Dantas at CSW60seminar in New York). President Paul Kagame officially announcedhis intention to run for a third seven-year term in 2017, and thenpromptly took to Twitter to defend his decision against criticismfrom the US State Department for ‘ignoring an historic opportunityto reinforce and solidify the democratic institutions the Rwandanpeople have for more than 20 years laboured so hard to establish’.The President’s announcement was no surprise; it followed on theheels of a national referendum in which Rwandans votedoverwhelmingly for a constitutional amendment that would allowhim to stay in office until 2034. With such broad support — whethergenuine or partly coerced — Kagame’s re-election next year lookslike a foregone conclusion. The Rwandan government’s tendency to disregard certain democraticprinciples in favour of ‘development,’ ‘stability’ and ‘security’ has stood out as the inconvenienttruth of a post-genocide nation that is otherwise credited for achieving some of the mostsignificant global health and development victories in the world. The UN Human DevelopmentIndex shows that Rwanda had improved by more than any other country over the past 25 years.Rwanda’s average growth has been 7.5% over the past 10 years with economic policies that arefriendly to investment, growth and trade, and a ranking by the World Bank as the easiest place incontinental Africa to do business. Its effective government has clamped down on corruption so thatRwanda ranks as the fourth least corrupt country in Africa and above such countries as Greece andItaly. Officials and ministers are expected to work long and hard, and be committed to the poor.They are held accountable through performance contracts that extend to local mayors and othercommunity leaders. Those who fail to meet targets (or who fiddle the numbers) are fired. There is debate about whether Kagame should be backed for providing stability and prosperity, orcondemned for stifling democracy. The lack of strife in Rwanda is considered by some to be theresult of a weakened opposition and efforts by Kagame to silence his critics. A new book onRwanda by Anjan Sundaram describes his attempts to run a journalist training program in thecountry and the ways in which free speech is controlled, particularly in the Rwandan press.However, without Kagame’s firm hand, it can be argued that the miracle wrought in Rwanda couldquickly be reversed.Leaders in both Burundi and Burkino Faso have also attempted to extend their presidency beyondconstitutional term limits and remain as heads of their countries. Burundi’s President PierreNkurunziza fended off a coup attempt and is still dealing with worrisome unrest leading to civilwar already marked by ethnic killings, but he managed to keep his post. President BlaiseCompaore of Burkina Faso was forced out of office after mass protests followed his announcementto extend his term. Recent elections in Uganda gave victory again to one of Africa’s longestservingleaders, President Yoweri Museveni, after 30 years in office.Women’s progress around the world. I will save most of my news of individual women to my nextnewsletter. Politics. Tsai Ing-wen has been elected Taiwan’s first female president, leading theDemocratic Progressive Party that wants independence from China. The Marshall Islandsparliament has elected a new president, Dr Hilda Heine, the first female leader of anyindependent Pacific island nation. In Samoa, four women have been elected to Parliament, one asDeputy Prime Minister. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s 10th parliamentary elections yielded asignificant victory for both reformists and women pushing for change in Iranian society.Australia. The only two Australians on the World’s 50 GreatestLeaders list are women, who genuinely use leadership to inspireand enlist others on their missions for change. Rosie Batty, whohas so effectively advocated the elimination of domestic violence(photo at UN) and Mina Guli, the chief executive of Thirst, areinteresting and compelling choices. On World Water Day on March22, Guli completed her incredibly ambitious mission to run 40marathons across seven deserts and seven continents in sevenweeks. Singapore-based Google executive Michelle Guthrie willbecome the ABC’s first female managing director (MD) next month.Victoria continues to make progress on the number of women inleadership roles in its public service, with women comprising 44%of public sector executive positions in 2015. Among Victoria’sseven departments, more than half at the top levels are women,with Health and Human Services over 57%, Education and Training, and Justice and Regulation areon 52%. Senior public servant, Dr Heather Smith, is to lead the Department of Communications andthe Arts department. Victoria’s Public Sector Commissioner, Belinda Clark, is in charge of anagency with an all-female executive. In New South Wales, around 42% of public service executivesare women. The first woman auditor general appointed in NSW is former Ararat woman MargaretCrawford. The Prime Minister has poached Michele Bruniges, currently head of the NSWDepartment of Education, to become the nation’s top education bureaucrat overseeing schools,higher education and childcare policy in Canberra. The increase reflects a concerted effort andstrong commitment from public sector leaders to increase the numbers of women at executivelevel to levels more proportionate to their participation in the workforce. Increasing developmentopportunities for women and awareness of barriers such as unconscious bias at work in promotionprocesses have helped achieve this.Boards. Women are also making inroads on board positions. Elizabeth Broderick is Non ExecutiveDirector (NED), Australian Rugby Union; Rose Hiscock, Director, Science Gallery Melbourne; AndreaStaines, NED, SeaLink; Janet Whiting, President of the Council of Trustees, National Gallery of Victoria; Christine Holgate, NED, Collingwood Football Club; Kate Carnell, Federal Small BusinessOmbudsman; Sophie Galaise, MD, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; Lisa Gray, CEO Victorian FundsManagement Corporation; Kathryn Toohey, Deputy Electoral Commissioner.Internationally, the International Monetary Fund has appointed Christine Lagarde for a secondterm as MD, backed by the United Kingdom, Germany, China, and her home country, France, tostay on for another five years. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has appointed fourArab women from Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Algeria and Yemen to top positions in the 47-year-oldorganization that has 12 women working in its secretariat. The OIC is the world’s second-largestinternational organization after the UN, consisting of 57 countries. Dame Patsy Reddy is the thirdwoman to be named as NZ’s Governor-General. Berta Cáceres, a Lenca Indigenous woman, andanother internationally recognized leader and activist who worked at the frontlines in the struggleagainst the expropriation of land and water from her community by the construction of the AguaZarca hydropower dam project in the Gualcarque River basin in Honduras was assassinated lastmonth in her home. She was awarded a special Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015.Women’s International Cricket League (WICL). I wasdelighted to be invited to be an ambassador for WICL. Ifollow women’s sport but apart from playing cricket withmy two brothers who I was sandwiched between in the1940s, which earned me the label of ‘tomboy’, I had littleinterest in what I considered to be a men’s sport beforeliving in Bangladesh. My counterpart there was uncle tothe captain of the national cricket team and he travelledto Australia with the team to barrack his country on. WICLwill be the first privately funded, fully professionalWomen’s T20 Cricket League and will feature over 80 of the world’s elite players and also acontingent of the top up-and-coming cricketers from traditional and non-traditional cricket-playingnations. The objective is to create opportunities and further the commercial development ofwomen’s cricket in response to market opportunities and player needs. WICL will also guaranteeminimum player salaries based on a tiered ranking system. Progress in women’s sport has generallybeen slow, but as the Southern Stars have shown with their recent close contest in the World Cupafter three consecutive annual wins, women’s cricket has been more successful than the men’s.Matildas have just shown with their emphatic qualification for the Rio Olympics that Australia isfacing a whole new reality in women’s sport. An unbeaten run at the qualification tournament,against some of the world’s highest ranked teams, was the culmination of a new pay deal, a coachthat listens to his players and a belief that they are being treated as legitimate elite athletes. TheAustralian women’s football team is now considered mainstream in its own right whereas onlymonths ago Australia’s best female players of the world game were struggling to make ends meetwhile being given ‘the honour’ of representing their country. When they pushed their demands fora new collective bargaining agreement with the FFA there was an outcry. The insinuation was theyshould know their place, and their place wasn’t to be compared to the Socceroos. Now the Matildasare Australia’s best performing international football team.Growth and success in the netball competition between Australia and New Zealand has meant forthat Australian television networks are actually bidding against each other for the broadcast rights,until now virtually unheard of in women’s sport. Crowds watching the Diamonds are up, televisionaudiences are up, players are getting recognised and sponsors are happy. And the benefits don’tend there; men’s sport has seen there is an upside for them also. The Sydney Swifts netball teamhas an ongoing relationship with the Sydney Swans AFL team. Now there are meetings taking placefor more sports twinning, not just with the AFL but with the NRL too. When our hockey teams headto the Rio Olympics this year the men (Kookaburras) and women (Hockeyroos) will go knowing theyall signed the same player agreement – there is no contractual difference between male and female players. And thankfully, after the outcry in London 2012, the women’s basketball team, theOpals, will join their male colleagues, the Boomers, in business class when they travel.Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women recently called for a leveling of theplaying field for women in sport. The new Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development adopted byUN Member States in September offers a unique opportunity to achieve gender equality in sport – a50-50 Planet by 2030. Paragraph 37 calls for sport to be an important enabler for development andwomen’s empowerment. I am delighted to be advocating for cricket to act on this recognition andbring the benefits of sport to women and girls. This requires more investment to foster women’sparticipation and leadership in sport. UN Women has a strong partnership with the InternationalOlympic Committee through a joint legacy programme that begins in Brazil and will empowerthousands of girls, teaching them about health, violence against women and girls, and equippingthem with life and leadership skills. Sport and the pursuit of gender equality can be mutuallyreinforcing — through the role models they create, the values they promote, and their potentialfor outreach. They are similar in essence in their capacity to generate a dream and driveindividuals to bring about change and success, in their own lives and in society at large.Monaco. The exhibition project initiated by the Sordello and Missana Collection that Erica wasinvited to curate – ‘Living Waters’- was opened by Prince Albert II and was a grand enjoyableaffair. The highlight was an installation funded by the Australia Council, that included a hugewhale in the back centre of the exhibition hall, bark paintings by Barayuwa Mununggurr, and videoscreens underneath with four large banners by Ruak Lewis hanging from the ceiling. The Westernmodel whale was covered in Barayuwa’s clan designs of his whale totem and he, his Maori wife,Whaiora Tukaki and Ruark made video projections of Blue Mud Bay, where the whale stories on thebarks are located – resulting in a cross-cultural multi-national installation. With her colleagues,Donna Carstens and Georges Petitjean, Erica’s exhibition design and rationale drew the MonacoOceanographic collection into a dialogue with Australian works,juxtaposing their Western science artworks with Indigenousknowledge systems. Her husband Ian McLean went across for theinstallation and was an invaluable support. It was great to thenspend a few days in Antibes and on to Paris together.I hope to move into my one-bedroom apartment in Sydney by theend of the year. In the meantime I am staying in the homes of mygenerous children. I loved four weeks with Andrew and Doug’sfamilies in Canberra, two with my last two grandchildren, BeatrixRuby and Matilda June, and another two with my first marriedgrandson, Nathan. After this holiday I will be with Erica and Ian inBundanoon, and with Ellen’s family when I have appointments in Sydney.Blessings, Shirley Randell“Home is…” by Maddie Godfreyhome is a suitcaseI carry inside myselfand I can place itwherever I pleasehome is any timemy laughter spills outso violently and whollythat I think there’s nothing lefthome is the smellof leaves after rainof skin, of sandor anything like lavenderhome is not a personor a placehome is always inside of meno matter where my bed’s made