Inspired by Rosie Elliott on International Women's Day
As Rosie had been a particularly constant and determined warrior in that high stakes community campaign, it felt only right that she should be publicly acknowledged for her efforts.
I decided that flowers were in order and was amused when I went to collect them that the woman who served me recognised Rosie from a recent TV report, one where she had been protesting against a Federal Liberal MP's attempt to resurrect the dud Tunnel. Apparently Rosie had been captured that day on film parading resolutely with her banner long after everyone else had left.
As today is International Women's Day, Christina of Brunswick Street's wonderful Flower Flower surpassed herself with this offering of green, purple and white blooms:
Today's event was held in Collingwood's imposing bluestone Town Hall and the list of nominees for the award read like a Who's Who of exceptional local women. Sadly, instead of capitalising on that, the organisers opted for a panel discussion as the central activity. I have no personal issues with the panel members. Under other circumstances I would have been keen to hear more from these experts, especially Sisterworks' Luz Restrepo, who spoke passionately about the challenges for women arriving fresh in Australia with no English:
It was just that the nominees themselves, handpicked as they were by their communities, and embodying the richness of multi-cultural Yarra, remained an utterly untapped resource. I was intrigued to read about the variety of their preoccupations and contributions in the programme, but as they or their delegates were never given the opportunity to speak, I went away from the event none the wiser. I couldn't help wondering if other audience members in the packed hall, also presumably predominantly there to support their nominee, felt similarly disappointed.
Zelda D'Aprano, pictured above with Rosie, was one of the nominees. She was a leader in the Women's Liberation Movement and played a central role in the fight for equal pay in the 60s and 70s. We were only treated to a brief taste of Zelda's wise and feisty observations when she spoke from the floor. What a missed opportunity!
As the event drew to a close, nominees were invited up to the front, where they received their certificates en masse before having their pictures taken, as the audience noisily adjourned for lunch. Although I'm sure it wasn't the intention, the nominees' involvement at that late stage of the proceedings felt almost like an afterthought.
So thank you very much to Yarra for staging the event. And next year I would like to see it showcasing the extraordinary nominees' extraordinary stories.