6 March 2020
This International Women’s Day, we wanted to show our support for the women in our community by spotlighting the issue of sexism and sexual harassment in Canberra and the impacts it has on women’s lives. According to our 2019 survey of Canberra women, Our Lives: Women in the ACT over 50 per cent of women in Canberra have experienced instances of sexism in the last 12 months. The workplace was the most common location for these experiences, accounting for more than 41 per cent of responses.
Our International Women’s Day morning tea, held on Tuesday 3 March at the Canberra Museum and Gallery, saw over fifty guests come together to celebrate and to show their support towards the elimination of sexual harassment in Australia.
The event began with a heartfelt Welcome to Country delivered by Ngunnawal Elder, Aunty Janette. While drawing on her own unique experiences as an Aboriginal woman, Aunty Janette extended words of empathy toward all women who had experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime.
As the event moved on, our CEO, Frances Crimmins took to the stage to welcome our guests and introduce the theme of this year’s event, #EachforEqual. Frances shared a number of alarming statistics to help highlight the prevalence of sexual harassment in our community, while also drawing upon her own experience of harassment working as a young woman in hospitality.
Following this address, we screened our short documentary featuring three local women, Charise, Vivian, and Eleanor, who spoke openly about their experiences dealing with sexual harassment in public spaces. This video invites the viewer to take a closer look at sexism and harassment through the lens of those who experience it and gain insight into its harmful effects on an individual’s sense of self and wellbeing.
Once the film concluded, a panel was set up to explore the themes of the documentary. Facilitated by our Senior Events and Marketing Coordinator, Jazmeen Payne, panellists, Sue Webeck (ANU’S Respectful Relationships Unit Manager), Siang Jin (Women’s Officer ANU Student Union) and Rachel Burgess (Outreach Coordinator Young Workers’ Centre) were all invited to share their expertise on this issue and institutional responses to sexual harassment and discrimination in Australia.
During this session, we saw many important topics arise that provided deep insight into the effects and the potential solutions for sexual harassment in our community. Such key points included the importance of consent, how gender expectations and roles can become embedded at young ages and the role of the education setting and workplaces in bringing about change.
Among the various topics explored during the event, one of our key messages was to advocate for the implementation of Respectful Relationships Education (RRE) in schools and universities across the ACT. At YWCA Canberra, we believe evidence-based models like RRE, which take a whole-of-school approach to cultural change can play an important role in the ultimate goal of eliminating violence against women.
Women’s safety is not a choice, it’s a right.
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Head to Flickr to check out all the photos from the International Women’s Day #EachForEqual morning tea.