International Women’s Day 2023: Five Trailblazing Women

Imagine a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. This is the proposition shaping International Womens Day 2023, the theme of which is Embrace Equity.

Every day in Australia, courageous women fight for equity, equality and a more inclusive world, shifting the dial on gender and sex, race, faith, age, and disability.

In honour of International Womens Day on 8 March, we have highlighted five trailblazers who inspire us. They represent a small selection of many who are shaking up the system and forging huge changes in their respective fields.

#EmbraceEquity #iwd2023 #InternationalWomensDay

Captain Mona Shindy

1. Captain Mona Shindy (she/her)

In 1992, Mona Shindy was among the first three women to serve on an Australian warship in the Australian Defence Force. In the years since, Captain Shindy has spearheaded initiatives that promote female integration and cultural diversity inclusion into a traditionally white male-dominated arena. In 2013, the decorated officer was appointed as the Islamic affairs advisor to the Chief of the Navy.

Captain Shindy’s drive to educate and inspire change has been with her since childhood, growing up in 1970s Sydney as an immigrant from Egypt who went on to earn a degree in electrical engineering and Master’s degrees in commerce, politics and policy.

In 2022, Captain Shindy released her memoir, Shattering Identity Bias. "My book discusses the issue of biased views and stereotypes that some choose to attach to community groups such as Muslims, Arabs and others,” she told the SBS in November 2022. "I want to teach members of these minorities how to deal with abuse, stick to their goals and move forward. We want Australia to be better for our children.”

Charlee Fraser

2. Charlee Fraser (she/her)

Walking the catwalk for global fashion powerhouses such as Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga, it could be easy to leave ‘real life’ behind and succumb to the gloss of a haute couture world. But for Charlee Fraser, an Indigenous model from Newcastle on Awabakal Country, her experiences with international brands and high-end publications have only strengthened her desire to bond with her native culture and land.

Leveraging her reach and influence, Fraser promotes sustainable and ethical fashion and supports emerging Indigenous creatives. She is an activist ambassador for First Nations Fashion and Design, a not-for-profit Indigenous organisation that aims to provide a platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders within the fashion industry. Also on the FNFD board of directors, Fraser mentors the next generation of First Nations models and design talent.

In 2021, the FNFD runway show made history as the first-ever Indigenous fashion show to be a part of the fashion week program. “It’s incredible that we’re here but why did it take so long?” Fraser asked Fashion Journal at the time.

Caitlin Figueiredo

3. Caitlin Figueiredo (she/her)

Caitlin Figueiredo is a proud Goan-Australian, social entrepreneur and gender equality activist, and if you don’t know her name, you surely will in the very near future.

Her advocacy achievements and accolades are vast and span the globe. She is the Founder & CEO of Jasiri Australia, a “youth-led social enterprise on a mission to unleash a fearless generation of women and girls.” At 22, Figueiredo was listed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 for co-founding the Girls Takeover Parliament Program, a Jasiri Australia initiative that promotes representational democracy and female political participation across the Asia-Pacific region.

As co-chair of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, Figueiredo provides a voice for 4.3 million young people and defends their rights at the Federal level, and she has sat on three United Nations Task Forces for youth development and gender equality.

Named a Queen's Young Leader and a Global Changemaker for Gender by The White House, Figueiredo’s goal of becoming the Prime Minister of Australia is clearly within reach.

Ellyse Perry

4. Ellyse Perry (she/her)

Smashing records and paving the way for women in sport, Ellyse Perry is one of Australia’s most talented and celebrated sportspeople… ever!

Debuting in 2007 just weeks before her 17th birthday, Perry was the youngest cricketer to represent Australia at an international level. She also holds the distinction of representing Australia in both the cricket and soccer World Cups. In the 2020 Ashes tour, she became the first cricketer, male or female, to score 1000 runs and 100 wickets in Twenty20 Internationals. Perry is a stellar role model for any aspiring sportsperson, regardless of their gender.

In 2022, the elite athlete launched her own line of cricket equipment and created a legacy for female athletes. Called Staple, the range of inclusive gear is designed for accessibility to all. “There’s been so much research and tech sporting equipment that has been designed with mainly male athletes in mind, it was my aim to help close this gap,” Perry told Fox Sports.

Yemi Penn

5. Yemi Penn (she/her)

Just as Brené Brown shone a spotlight on vulnerability, Yemi Penn is elevating the conversation on trauma. The British-born Nigerian based in Australia describes herself as ‘an engineer by profession and an entrepreneur by passion,’ and she is quickly building an empire of transformational coaching.

The fearless thought leader is transparent about her personal experiences of abuse, homelessness and single parenting and how she overcame the roadblocks of her past to forge a successful international career. She was running a global engineering consultancy when the urge to write a motivational book took hold. ”Did You Get the Memo? Because I F**king Didn’t” was released in 2019, quickly followed by a documentary Penn wrote and produced called “Did I Choose My Trauma?” Then came her powerful TED X talk and a flurry of keynote speaker requests.

Penn uses her voice to guide and empower individuals in pursuing their goals and overcoming biases and barriers. She cultivates racial literacy and allyship and is an advocate for equality and equity in STEM fields.

Visit the website to learn more.

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