Transitions, Changes and New Opportunities

Learning about coercive control at the Area 3 workshop. L-R: Mrs McLean, Tyril Houghton (Area 3 Director), Don McLean (WA Police).

It was a jam packed program at the Zonta District 23 Area 3 Workshop. The program included presentations on gender equality and climate action, coercive control, and women in technology as well as presentations, and updates on the amazing projects being undertaken by clubs in Western Australia.

We did not realise how grim the future looks for women if the climate crisis is not addressed quickly. As the Eastern States were suffering from prolonged flooding, Zontian, Carole Theobald walked us through the problems of the climate crisis. We learned that women hold the key to many of the solutions. Educating girls, advocating for women’s rights and inspiring more female leaders are fundamental ways of reducing emissions… just visit to find out why.

Don McLean from WA Police provided a very practical visual to demonstrate the elements that make up coercive control. He spoke from experience and explained that many women do not realise that coercive control is a form of family violence. Women may not be suffering physical violence, but they cannot live their lives fully. Their partners use their power to control them through such actions as intimidation, coercion, withholding money and limiting who they can see. It is scary to see how insidious this behaviour can be, slowly growing over the years until the woman has no confidence, no power, and no life. WA Police are being trained to look for the signs of coercive control when attending family violence situations. The book See What You Made Me Do by Jess Hill explains coercive control in more detail.

Kay Hargreaves, the co-chair of Women in Technology WA, provided an overview of their work to champion diversity and equality for women in technology+. With over 4,500 members, WITWA has four programs: future skills that through the Techtrails program bring female technology professionals into the classroom; professional events to increase members confidence and visibility; a new program that brings practical diversity and inclusion education to corporations; as well as an annual conference and awards to recognise excellence. Kay was inspired by Dame Steve Shirley, an early software entrepreneur that employed mostly females that worked from home – decades ago! Check her out in this interview.

A special presentation was made to Marina Sarkoski, who won the 2020 District 23 Jane M Klausman Women in Business Scholarship. Marina brought her husband and two sons who proudly saw her being presented with the award.

Members were able to catch up on activities being undertaken by clubs throughout WA, share ideas and learn about what is happening in District 23.

The District Conference is being held in Bendigo, Victoria from 10-12 September – so book your flights today.

L-R: Marina Sarkoski receives the District 23 Jane M Klausman Women in Business Scholarship from District 23 Governor, Sandra Burns.

The Best Ever UN Women IWD Breakfast

The 2021 Perth UN Women’s International Women’s Day (IWD) Breakfast was the best ever!

Over 600 people attended the UN Women’s IWD breakfast in Perth on Friday 5 March. This breakfast event ran over several time zones connecting with lunch events in other states.  Thousands of people joined the event online, making this a truly national experience.

Each event had two local speakers and then all locations shared a live-streamed presentation from Grace Tame, Australian of the Year. Grace Tame was absolutely brilliant and you could have heard a pin drop during her presentation.  There were quite a few tissues seen wiping eyes as she shared her story and she inspired everyone to be on the look out for ‘grooming’.  (She recently did a similar presentation to the National Press Club).

In Perth, after Aunty Gail Wynn had welcomed us to country, Marion Fulker, CEO of the Committee for Perth, clearly and succinctly showed how WA has the poorest gender equality record in the country.  She used graphics from the excellent Filling the Pool report that showed what we can do about it.  If you have not read the report yet – do so today!

Zahra Al Hilaly, Youth Representative for the UN Women’s Global Generation Equality Task Force, passionately described the importance of storytelling and the challenges of getting more women of colour included in decision making processes.  Too often, their voice is ignored and it was marvellous to see Zahra taking a stand on this issue.

Beth Shaw, Past President of UN Women Australia, described the wonderful work of UN Women and gave a preview of the When Will She be Right campaign that will be formally launched on International Women’s Day, Monday 8 March. The advert for this campaign is very powerful and the campaign has many links to a host of tools to start us on this journey.

Beth explained that, at the rate we are going, we will not achieve gender equality globally for another 100 years – so the challenge is out to achieve this in ten years – yes by 2030!

Minister for Women’s Interests, the Hon Simone McGurk had taken out time of her busy election schedule to attend the entire event and, like everyone else in the audience, was captivated by the information presented.

Tina Altieri from Channel 7 expertly kept the program on track and smoothly handled the live cross to the Sydney event.  She is an excellent warm, professional, MC and it was pleasing to see that Channel 7 did interviews with the speakers after the event for the television news.

We enjoyed a tasty breakfast with excellent service. The AV team and host of volunteers should be congratulated for making everyone so welcome, ensuring the event went smoothly and that Covid practices were in place. On every table, a lucky attendee received a door prize of a marvellous book, produced by Westpac, featuring 200 female leaders – a lovely gesture.

This format for IWD was brilliant – so don’t miss out on next year’s event!

Grace Tame in a first for UN Women

Grace Tame, Australian of the Year 2021. (Photo: UN Women)

For the first time the UN Women’s International Women’s Day events will be held simultaneously around Australia: breakfast in Perth and lunch in all other States. Each event will have two local speakers who in Perth will be Marion Fulker, CEO of the Committee for Perth and Zahra Al Hilaly, Youth Representative for UN Women’s Global Generation Equality Task Force.

The events are timed so that Grace Tame, the 2021 Australian of the Year, can speak live to all the audiences around Australia from the Sydney event.

Grace Tame recently spoke at the National Press Club and a copy of her speech is attached below.

Grace Tame is a leader of positive change. She is a survivor-advocate for victims of sexual assault, particularly those who were abused as children. On the 25th of January, 2021, Grace was named Australian of the Year.

Tickets are still available for the virtual event – so you can watch it in real time, or watch it later. All funds go to UN Women projects.

Full house at Diving into Boola Bardip

It was a full house for the Diving into Boola Bardip Women in Science event. Our three magnificent speakers, Dr Lisa Kirkendale, Dr Zoe Richards and Dr Nerida Wilson from the WA Museum, kept the audience spellbound with their personal stories of how they became interested in science and the challenges and opportunities presented with their work as marine biologists.

Zontians, friends and family were joined by students and staff from Perth Modern School for this night that celebrated women in STEM.

Our speakers talked of their childhood, their student years and their current research. They showed how you could go to a country school hundreds of kilometres from the sea and still have an ocean-based career. They stressed the importance of maths in their work. We laughed as they demonstrated how they tied a simple plastic washing up brush to the arm of a multi million dollar robotic submarine – and wiggled it to attract squids and other creatures of the deep. The creatures rubbed themselves on the brush, leaving small amounts of tissue on the bristles. The tissue was analysed for its DNA and this helped to identify new species!

They had species named after them. They worked in the tropics. They worked in Antarctica. They were generous, intelligent and witty. They loved their work and were eager to share it answering questions with enthusiasm before, during and after the event.

To us land-lubbers, they impressed us with their bravery as they worked in an environment inhabited by sharks and sea snakes – often at very close quarters. On some of the semi submersed coral reefs, they have lookouts posted to keep them safe from crocodiles. They are working on the front line of climate change and have travelled the world in their work. What a life!

After the presentations, the raffle was drawn for the luxury mini-break at COMO the Treasury. Sarah Josey was the lucky winner.

Many thanks go to the fabulous speakers who made the event such a success, to KPMG and their staff for the venue and to COMO the Treasury for its wonderful raffle prize. Over $4,5000 was raised from this wonderful evening and funds will go towards Zonta’s health and education projects.

  • Zonta Says YES to gender equality.
  • Zonta Says NO to violence against women.
  • Zonta Says NOW to gender equality and climate action.