THE extraordinary achievements of “ordinary” Port Stephens women and gender parity was the focus of an International Women’s Day event in Nelson Bay last Friday.
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington, who was part of an historic shift in Labor’s shadow cabinet last week where nine women were appointed to the front bench, presented the Port Stephens 2016 Local Woman of the Year award to Christina Steel at the March 11 luncheon, hosted annually by Salamander Bay Rotary Club.
Ms Steel is president of the Port Stephens Park Residents Association. She advocates, supports and fights for the rights of more than 3000 people living in the Port’s 18 residential parks.
Having missed out in the Port Stephens Australia Day awards, Ms Steel’s voluntary work was recognised by Ms Washington, who put the Anna Bay woman forward for the award.
Ms Steel said she was “shocked” to receive the award and took the opportunity to encourage the more than 130 people in attendance of the event to join her in the fight against bullying and harassment within residential parks.
“We would be grateful for more help to lessen the power imbalance in residential parks,” she said.
Guest speaker of the international women’s day event was Kim Ellis, the director of International Earth and Space Technology. The Medowie mother is a research scientist and lawyer that is employed as a space industry consultant.
She spoke at Friday’s luncheon about asteroid mining, “space junk” and laws in space.
Ms Ellis also spoke about what it is like working within the male-dominated space and technology field, and the questions she faces for doing so.
“I often get asked what it’s like working in such a male-dominated field,” she said. “I tell them that I didn’t choose my field because it’s male-dominated, but because it is what I am passionate about.”
Her closing comments tied in with the opening remarks made by emcee Misty Reid, former president of the Salamander Bay Rotary Club. Ms Reid highlighted findings from the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap reports, which estimates it will take until 2133 to achieve global gender parity in the workplace.
Money raised from Friday’s event will be donated to the Yacaaba Centre and go to supporting Rotary projects. The Yacaaba Centre is located at 29 Donald Street, Nelson Bay, not in Yacaaba Street as the Examiner reported in last week’s edition.
Attendees of the event were encouraged to donate underwear, which would be included in care packs for new mothers in Papua New Guinea.