Everything Our Editor Learnt At marie claire’s International Women’s Day Event

We have a hell of a lot of work to do.

I often question exactly why we celebrate International Women’s Day, when International Men’s Day – which if you’re wondering, is on November 19th  – is never mentioned, let alone celebrated. I get frustrated that we need to use IWD as an opportunity to be heard, when men don’t. Men already get heard. But then I remind myself that we have a hell of a lot of work to do – and if we don’t come together to talk about our experiences, we simply won’t move forward and pave a different path for future generations.

Right now, there is not a single country in the world that has achieved gender equality. Not one. Our friends over in Iceland have proved that it’s within reach. Its gender gap is estimated to be 91.2% closed, and it’s the only country to have closed more than 90% of its gap. I might also add that the Icelandic prime minister is female, and nearly half of it’s MP’s are female. There’s more – last year the women of Iceland also went on strike to remind the rest of the population just how much paid and unpaid work women do to keep the wheels of the country running. The entire country ground to a halt. Now that’s power to the people.

Yet not all the statistics are so promising. It’ll take another 257 years to close the global gender gap. On average, one woman a week is murdered by her former or current partner. Worldwide, over 380 million women and girls are living in extreme poverty. And over 1.2 billion women and girls live in places where safe access to abortion is restricted. Like I said, we have work to do. 


The theme this year is ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women. Acclerate Progress’. As the powerhouse Reese Witherspoon said recently, ‘We must never stop investing in ourselves and each other’ – that is the only option and the only way forward. It has been proven time and time again that countries, companies, and households are better off when they fully use the talents and skills of the female population.

Last Friday, marie claire celebrated International Women’s Day. I stood there, surrounded by  remarkable women, who all had their own stories, their own lived experiences was reminded that women have a superpower, and that is, their ability to connect and share stories. I spent the afternoon interviewing five formidable women. One of my favourite people, Kirli Saunders, a Gunai woman, award-winning writer, artist and consultant opened the lunch by reading a selection of her powerful poetry. She had the room in tears.

I then interviewed the Hon Tanya Plibersek Federal MP and her daughter Anna Coutts-Trotter, who is the founder of The Survivor Hub, launched to support, empower and inform people impacted by sexual assault. Up next was Triangl co-founder Erin Deering, the author of Hanging On By A Thread, who shared her journey of having it all and then walking away (she built her bikini empire into a USD$200 million empire, and was nine month’s pregnant with her second child when she left her fiancé who also happened to be her co-founder).

marie claire editor Georgie Abay speaks to Elizabeth Day.

Next up, media personality Melissa Leong (that title doesn’t really capture just how accomplished this woman is – she’s a TV presenter, food critic and author), who shared everything from why she said no at first to the Masterchef gig to what success looks like to her. And finally, the brilliant author and podcast host Elizabeth Day, who has been in my ears for many years (along with millions of others around the world).

It felt so fitting to be sitting opposite such a remarkable woman on IWD, because she has written so extensively about so many of the issues that we come up against – from failure to fertility to divorce to childlessness and most recently, she has explored the nuances of friendship, and the important role that women play in our lives. As she writes, they have the ability to shape and sustain us – and strong connections are key to our happiness.

There is immense power in storytelling – it has the ability to change our perspective and open our eyes to diverse experiences. Storytelling is why I became an editor, and why marie claire has played had a powerful role in the lives of Australian women for nearly 30 years.

Happy International Women’s Day. Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them. 

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