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Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Page: 1805


Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (09:45): International Women's day is marked around the world on 8 March and celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women past and present. International Women's Day has been observed since the early 1900s, a time when women were fighting against oppression and inequality. There is no question that the world has come a long way since those days; however, around the world, women are still seeking equality in education, health, wages and personal safety.

In Bennelong I meet and engage every day with remarkable women like Helen Crouch, who is dedicated to helping the disadvantaged in our community through the North Ryde Community Aid & Information Centre; and Sue Dennett, Principal of Karonga School, who cares for and teaches children with special needs, equipping these children and their families with life skills to ensure they can participate in the community. Throughout Bennelong there are remarkable businesswomen who have displayed innovation and entrepreneurship by establishing unique businesses like Sweetness the Patisserie and Bubcakes, to name only two.

My mother was devoted to her children and also a devoted schoolteacher who respected the potential of each individual, spending much of her teaching time reading to the slow learners and disadvantaged students. She was always encouraging of her children—even when her little boy decided to go into politics! I am the youngest of four children, with three older sisters. I learnt from a young age that girls can do anything. There certainly was no challenging of their authority—until I grew bigger than them! I have two beautiful daughters, Georgia and Emily, now young women—although they are still just my little girls—and they challenge me every day but support me when it matters most. Both girls, along with my son, Charlie, dedicated many hours to being with me during the 2013 election campaign.

On a day-to-day basis my Bennelong electorate office is run by a dedicated team, most of whom are women These modern women organise my diary, keep me up to date on issues and manage important projects. In addition, each of these women connects on a very personal level with the constituents in our electorate. Later this week I am hosting a private International Women's Day morning tea with the women who have helped shape my life's journey as well as those who keep me in line each day.

There is no question that over the past century the focus of International Women's Day has changed. Initially it served as a reminder of gender equality and the struggles of being born female. Today we are proudly celebrating the achievements of women around the world. So, on International Women's Day, think globally and act locally. Do your bit to ensure that the future of our girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.