Key speakers in attendance included ‘Ms Melanie Gibbons’, MP for Menai representing the Premier of NSW, ‘Dr G K Harinath’ OAM Chairman Multicultural NSW, ‘Michelle Rowland’ Federal Member for Greenway, ‘Julie Owens’ Federal MP for Parramatta, UIA President ‘John Kennedy’, ‘Lara Sleiman’ Candidate for Granville, Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications, Supt Garry Merry weather, White Ribbon Ambassador, Consul Arvinder Ranga, Rugmini Venkataraman and Indu Balachandran from BMS Multicultural Services.
Dr Minoti Apte OAM, Pancreatic Cancer Researcher and Winner of NSW Premier’s Award for Woman of the Year 2015 inspired the audience with an insight into her life’s journey and her path to achievement. She encouraged the participants never to give up and to stay focussed on their goal.
UIA honoured five outstanding and high achieving women of Indian origin:
Dr MinotiApte OAM for Excellence in Cancer Research,
Dr Jayantee Mukherjee-Saha for Excellence in Policy Research,
Pallavi Sinha for Excellence in Law,
Aradhana Bhatt for Excellence in Literature
Santosh Verma for Excellence in Arts and Culture.
Sumati Advani, Chair of the Women’s Steering Committee welcomed the audience and said , “International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the struggle of women around the world to become equal partners with men and to acknowledge their achievements”.
Sumati Advani ,said ,“ UIA’s International Women’s Day celebrations were an opportunity to raise awareness and honour the high achieving women of Indian origin”.
She also highlighted that amongst other key issues, the emerging issues for women of Indian origin currently are Domestic Violence and Employment Barriers. She referred to the recently released Intergenerational Report which highlighted that the key drivers of economic growth are – population, participation and productivity. Women make up 50% of the population and bring a wealth of talent, experience and wisdom to the workforce. More needs to be done to improve Australia’s female workforce participation rates.
The report has found that if Australia’s female workforce participation rate could reach Canada’s current level, it is estimated that our GDP would be a permanent $25 billion higher. It not only makes social sense it also makes economic sense to improve the femal workforce participation rate.
President John Kennedy, said, “UIA continues to work with the Indian Consulate and various state and federal government departments to support women in distress”.
Supt Garry Merry weather, White Ribbon Ambassador, said, “ensuring Women’s Safety is a man’s issue too. All women are entitled to live in safety – free from all forms of men’s violence. White Ribbon is Australia’s only national, male led Campaign to end men’s violence against women”.
Sumati Advani, said, “that quantum leap improvement in women’s safety will be achieved if men also participated and encouraged men of Indian origin to also join the White Ribbon campaign and become White Ribbon Ambassadors”.
Participants were treated to beautiful songs by Rekha Kanth and Usha Sridhara, an exciting dance performance by Dr Anju Aggarwal, Trivia followed by a delicious lunch.
The highlight of the event was the raising of valuable funds for Samarpan – a local grassroots organisation representing People With Disability (both Intellectual and Physical) of Indian / South Asian background in New South Wales. “Samarpan” started as an informal support group for families with children with disability in Sydney in 2002 and has been providing invaluable support to the community. “Samarpan” is the winner of the NSW Carers Award 2013. Funds were raised through a raffle of prizes proudly donated by Harvey Norman, Auburn.
This year’s UIA Women’s Steering Committee members Sumati Advani, Dr Varsha Tembe, Honey Rupani and Mala Chandani would like to thank all the attendees and sponsors for their continued support.