Wednesday, 06 March 2024

Migrant Resource Centre International Women’s Day Forum

I am delighted to be with you to officially open the Migrant Resource Centre’s International Women’s Day Forum.

As Governor I am committed to pursuing gender equality and communicating the value of diversity to our society. I know you share these objectives and thank you for the opportunity to discuss them with you.

I especially welcome those women here today who have recently arrived in South Australia.

While your journey will likely have had its challenges, I trust you will have found a warm, welcoming community; one where you are being supported and helped to settle in your new home.

In the lead up to Friday’s International Women’s Day, this forum is an important way to focus on the strength and resilience of migrant and refugee women.

We can hear your voices, share your pathways, and celebrate your achievements.

I congratulate the Migrant Resource Centre and the supporting organisations for staging this forum for the past several years.

Your wider mission to empower women who are settling in Australia, gives them a sense of belonging and provides signposts enabling them to contribute cultural and economic skills to our community.

Such diversity gives us strength.

The theme of this year’s Forum is: Migrant and Refugee Women Voices for Economic Empowerment, which supports the 2024 International Women’s Day theme of Count Her In: Accelerating gender equality through economic empowerment.

Because with empowerment comes choice.

Through empowerment we gain knowledge; we gain courage to make change.

Empowerment enables women to gain educational qualifications and find economic independence through employment or running their own business.

Where, sadly necessary, empowerment strengthens and supports women in standing up to domestic violence and reaching out to find practical assistance and a safe place.

As world citizens, that goal of empowerment transcends our borders.

As a former diplomat, I have witnessed how Australian and United Nations aid programs in developing countries are changing behaviours and giving women more economic security.

To outline just one example: In the large Koki Market in Port Moresby, improving the safety of women who come down from the highlands to sell fresh produce has enabled them to sell their produce more easily.

Information about financial services has put them on a sounder economic footing.

Women make up about 85% of the 250 vendors. This additional money flows onto families and the women often re-invest their savings into education, health, and nutrition.

That’s practical empowerment in action.

While International Women’s Day and this forum are beacons for celebration and action, I would encourage everyone to embrace the quest for empowerment every day in any way you can.

After all, there is much good work happening here in South Australia.

Just last year alone, more than 750 women were supported through the Australian Migrant Resource Centre’s Women’s Empowerment Program with over 1,200 sessions facilitating education and employment pathways.

The partnership between the Council of Migrant and Refugee Women of South Australia has for six years been driving change for women as they settle in our State.

Many more examples abound. Many will be shared today.

Personally, and as Governor, I look forward to the day when the quest for equality is no longer a goal just out of reach for some, but a reality for all women.

Through your unwavering pursuit of this aspiration, as a community, we are that much closer to making it so.

Coming events