International Women’s Day celebrated at North Arm Cove

International Women’s Day event organiser Jan Peeters addresses the room full of local ladies.

ALMOST 100 local ladies came together for an International Women’s Day (IWD) event at the North Arm Cove Community Centre on Friday 8 March.

“This is the 26th consecutive year we have run this event, and are thrilled to have raised $3390 for International Women Australia,” Jan Peeters, the main organiser of the IWD fundraiser, told NOTA.

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The ladies listened to two guest speakers, Linda Harwood from The Umbrella Foundation Australia (TUFA), and locally-based celebrity Maggie Nadal, while enjoying an amazing morning tea provided by several volunteer chefs amongst their number.

Ms Harwood spoke of the conditions of women and children in Kathmandu, Nepal, towards whom the efforts of TUFA have been directed.

“I saw the underlying social issues that led to the poverty in Kathmandu, learnt of child trafficking and how children were often sent from poor mountain villages to the city ‘to be safe’, but ended up in the sex trades,” Ms Harwood explained.

Particularly horrifying was the depiction of the brutal hellscape of the hand-made bricks industry, and the debt-enforced penury suffered by the ‘women and children of the kilns’, who carry up to 1000 bricks per day on their heads while working around 1000-degree kilns in “apocalyptic conditions”.

“There is no sex education and no understanding of contraception, and many of the women are pregnant as teenagers,” Ms Harwood said.

“TUFA has attempted to help via the distribution of simple feminine hygiene kits, with instructions on how to keep clean and washed, stop infections, and birthing kits that include pictorial instructions on how to deliver a baby.”

Second speaker Maggie Nadal offered a life story punctuated by love, the theatre, and service in the Navy, reflecting on how many things had changed.

“I was born into a very musical family, but refused to ask my mother to support me through theatre school.”

Maggie’s life took her first into the Navy ‘for the uniforms’, having a family, and eventually chasing her own dreams joining Canberra’s first theatre company, acting in the nude, and becoming a pre-eminent voiceover actor for several large corporations.

“Mum said: ‘It is never too late to follow your dreams, at least you had a go’,” Maggie concluded, and the Myall Coast has been fortunate enough to enjoy Maggie’s talents on community radio, and compering recent fashion shows.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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