UIA honours high achievers in the Indian community on International Women’s Day

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Dr Minoti Apte (2nd from left),  Pallavi Sinha, Aradhana Bhatt, Santosh Verma and  Dr Jayantee Mukherjee-Saha  with Sue Advani (middle)


By Rekha Rajvanshi

International Women’s Day, also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace, is celebrated with great enthusiasm throughout the world. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was: “Empowering women, empowering humanity: picture it!”.  Various communities in Sydney held events to celebrate IWD and to honor women’s achievements.

Amongst Indian community of Sydney, United Indian Associations celebrated International Women’s Day 2015 on Saturday March 7, 2015 at Auburn Town Hall.

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Sue Advani welcomes  Federal Member for Greenway, Michelle Rowland  

Sumati Advani, Chair of the Women’s Steering Committee welcomed the audience and said that International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the struggle of women around the world to become equal partners with men and to acknowledge their achievements.

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 UIA team members with the honorees

She said that UIA’s International Women’s Day celebrations were an opportunity to raise awareness and honour the high achieving women of Indian origin. She also highlighted that amongst other key issues, the emerging issues for women of Indian origin currently are Domestic Violence and Employment Barriers. She referred to the recently released Intergenerational Report, which highlighted that the key drivers of economic growth are ”“ population, participation and productivity. Women make up 50% of the population and bring a wealth of talent, experience and wisdom to the workforce. More needs to be done to improve Australia’s female workforce participation rates. She also said that quantum leap improvement in women’s safety will be achieved if men also participated and encouraged men of Indian origin to also join the White Ribbon campaign and become White Ribbon Ambassadors.

President John Kennedy said that UIA continues to work with the Indian Consulate and various state and federal government departments to support women in distress. Supt Garry Merryweather, White Ribbon Ambassador said ensuring Women’s Safety is a man’s issue too. All women are entitled to live in safety – free from all forms of men’s violence. White Ribbon is Australia’s only national, male led Campaign to end men’s violence against women.

More than two hundred people of the community attended the program. Key speakers included Ms Melanie Gibbons, MP for Menai representing the Premier of NSW, Dr G K Harinath OAM, Chairman Multicultural NSW, Michelle Rowland, Federal Member for Greenway, Julie Owens Federal MP for Parramatta, UIA President John Kennedy, Lara Sleiman, Candidate for Granville, Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications, Supt Garry Merryweather, White Ribbon Ambassador, Consul Arvinder Ranga, Rugmini Venkataraman and Indu Balachandran from BMS Multicultural Services.

Dr Minoti Apte OAM, Pancreatic Cancer Researcher and Winner of NSW Premier’s Award for Woman of the Year 2015 inspired the audience with an insight into her life’s journey and her path to achievement. She encouraged the participants never to give up and to stay focussed on their goal.

UIA honoured five outstanding and high achieving women of Indian origin: Dr Minoti Apte OAM for Excellence in Cancer Research, Dr Jayantee Mukherjee-Saha for Excellence in Policy Research, Pallavi Sinha for Excellence in Law, Aradhana Bhatt for Excellence in Literature and Santosh Verma for Excellence in Arts and Culture.

Audience enjoyed cultural part of the event, a beautiful poem ”˜Betiyan’ by the popular local poet Rekha Rajvanshi, song by Rekha Kanth and Usha Sridhara, an exciting dance performance by Dr Anju Aggarwal, Trivia followed by a delicious lunch.

The event also raised funds for a local grassroots organisation ”˜Samarpan’ representing  people with disability (both Intellectual and Physical) of Indian / South Asian background in New South Wales. Samarpan started as an informal support group for families with children with disability in Sydney in 2002 and has been providing invaluable support to the community. Samarpan is the winner of the NSW Carers Award 2013. Funds were raised through a raffle of prizes proudly donated by Harvey Norman, Auburn.

No doubt it was a well-organised event, well-attended by the community members.

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