International Women’s Day (Wednesday March 8) is an opportunity to celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness about discrimination and take action to drive gender parity. 

This year’s theme - Cracking the Code: Innovation for a Gender Equal Future – highlights the role that bold, transformative ideas, inclusive technologies and accessible education can play in combatting discrimination and the marginalisation of women globally.  

Why does IWD matter? 

IWD is a day to recognise how far we’ve come towards gender equality, but also how far we have left to go. Did you know... 

A safe space for women  

The Benevolent Society runs the Centre for Women’s, Children’s and Family Health in Campbelltown, NSW. Established in 1994, the centre provides health and wellbeing services and interventions to support women, children and families. 

Campbelltown Women\
The staff at Campbelltown Women's Centre. From left to right back row Kristy Organ, Bernadette Ahern, Michelle Thile, front row left to right Kelly Lester, Roweena Moffatt, Tanya White.

Integrated support services offered include crisis intervention, counselling, family therapy, psychoeducation, case management, therapeutic childcare and community education services aimed at educating and empowering women. 

“The centre provides a safe space where women are visible, can feel a sense of safety, validation and acknowledged. It is a place where women can access therapeutic interventions individually and or in a group setting,” says Bernadette Ahern, Child, Youth & Family Team Leader and Acting Manager of the Centre. 

“Groups with other women are designed to reduce social isolation. Groups have a physical and psychological health and wellbeing focus such as yoga or meditation or education. Providing a safe space for women is a critical component for women who have experienced domestic violence, sexual abuse and sexual assault, childhood trauma and other gendered adversity.” 

Often when a woman walks in or phones the centre, it may be the first time she has spoken to anyone about her experiences, and this can be overwhelming.  
“We provide a response-based approach to engaging women so that they are able to feel heard and validated,” Bernadette adds. “We take a ‘no wrong door’ approach to supporting women including transgender women.  
“Where women and children are identified to have better outcomes from another service, we will work with them to find the right service. Economic hardship is a significant barrier for women accessing services. Our service is a free service and assists women to connect with other services that can provide financial aid. 

“We also provide free therapeutic childcare for women whilst they are attending appointments within the centre to increase access. This allows women to access services knowing her children are securely supported and without needing to reexperience the trauma and can focus on their own therapeutic interventions.” 

Celebrating International Women’s Day 

To mark this year’s IWD, Bernadette and her team at the centre are hosting a FREE community event on Wednesday March 8 from 11am-2pm at Campbelltown’s Mawson Park. A free burger and drink will be provided courtesy of The Benevolent Society and Humanity Matters. 

Clients and members of the community will be able to enjoy many activities including meditation, making your own jewellery, bath salts and body scrub as well as a pledge tree, where you can write how you plan to embrace equity. Our CEO Lin Hatfield Dodds and NSW State MP for Campbelltown, Greg Warren, will also be there.  

“International Women’s Day is a significant event in the Calendar for the Macarthur team,” Bernadettes says. “We invite the community to join us in celebrating women and girls of Macarthur and to bring awareness about discrimination and equity disparity in our community and celebrate the resilience and strength of women and girls.” 
For Bernadette and her team, #IWD is an opportunity to celebrate women with the community and shine a light on the inequalities that remain for women around the world.   

“It is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and a call to action on gender parity,” she says. “We want to celebrate the diversity of our community and recognise the strengths of women.” 

When it comes to helping other women, particularly those in vulnerable positions, Bernadette says it’s imperative to ‘listen, believe and be supportive’. 
“Respect their choices and acknowledge that women are the experts in their own lives,” she says. “Resource yourself with information on services that are available for women in your local area so you can provide options that are current and appropriate.” 

To learn more about #IWD2023 click here  

To find out more about the Centre for Women’s Health click here or call our support centre at 1800 236 762.