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International Women’s Day 2018

Native Title & Public Interest Law
Lawyer Caitlin Edwards reflects on 2018 International Women’s Day events at Arnold Bloch Leibler.

Consistent with the observations of Julie Reilly, Australian Women Donors Network CEO, International Women’s Day felt a little different this year at Arnold Bloch Leibler.

We opened our celebrations with a whole of firm morning tea on Thursday 8 March. Speaking from our Sydney office, Partner Susanna Ford introduced the importance of International Women’s Day and the critical first step of acknowledging the problems posed by gender inequality. 

This was followed by a poignant and very well received speech from two of Arnold Bloch Leibler’s lawyers, Emily Korda and Maneka Siva Nathan. Emily and Maneka recognised the achievements of the women’s movement and underscored why it is still so important to be pushing for tangible progress in 2018. A copy of their speech can be read here

We continued the celebrations on Friday 9 March at a lunch time panel event co-hosted with the Human Rights Law Centre. As panel facilitator and HRLC Director of Legal Advocacy Ruth Barson put it, Friday’s extended celebrations benefited from the opportunity to listen to what dynamic women in Australia and around the world had to say on International Women’s Day about the manifold issues that impact women’s lives, including how to create a more genuinely inclusive women’s movement. 

Inclusivity and diversity were key themes for the three remarkable panellists: Anna Brown (Director of Legal Advocacy at HRLC), Elly Patira (Manager, Aboriginal Social Policy at Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet) and Shen Narayanasamy (Human Rights Campaign Director at GetUp!). 

The three panellists addressed what they saw as the biggest challenges to women’s rights in 2018, the obstacles to progress, how we can put our foot on the accelerator in 2018 and practical tips that have improved gender equality in their own workplaces.

Shen Narayanasamy reminded us that legislation doesn’t need to specifically target women or ‘use a capital F for female’ to disproportionately impact on women and girls. Elly challenged the audience to recognise that there doesn’t have to be a singular, inclusive feminist space and sometimes it is more important to support spaces for Aboriginal women to amplify their voices and solutions. Anna Brown spoke of the incredible hope and optimism that was the silver lining of last year’s postal survey that told LGBTI people for the first time that other Australians believed in their equality, and the principles of equality and justice for all people. 

Thank you to my colleagues Bridgid Cowling, Genevieve Sexton and Teresa Ward, for their work in delivering these fantastic events and encouraging us to carry on these conversations throughout the year.

To view all of the photos from the event, click here

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