“We are beautiful women, we are brave women” – Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD)

28 November 2021

On Tuesday 9 March, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia joined women seeking asylum, refugee women, and women from all walks of life to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). The event was generously hosted by Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.

35 women from across Sydney shared music, dance, food, and a laugh. It was a joyous occasion, celebrating the strength and resilience of all women.

‘As Australia grapples with prominent allegations of violence against women and inadequate responses to these from people in positions of authority, we honour the courage of women world-wide, who face down and navigate these challenges daily,’ said JRS Australia Country Director, Tamara Domicelj.

‘It is our privilege and challenge to accompany and serve them, to shine a light upon their leadership and dignity, and to create more spaces for womens’ voices to ring out. Together we can and must do better to dismantle the systems which breed, sustain, and cover over violence and discrimination against women. The time for deep and reflective change is now,’ she continued.

As part of the celebration, participants created an art installation called ‘Her Garden.’ The aim was to [symbolically] sow the seeds of hope for a better tomorrow. Everyone present used their palm prints to create ‘flowers’ on which they wrote messages of empowerment and strength. The flowers were then planted together, creating a garden full of colour and positivity.

Aaminah Goolam from Family Planning NSW spoke about the importance of the right to healthcare, including the right to reproductive healthcare. As a special treat, the incredible Tinsae from ‘Djebena coffees‘ orchestrated a delicious Ethiopian coffee-tasting session. To finish the day, participants were led in a practical demonstration of laughing yoga by the remarkable Chandrika.

Although the day felt light and fun, it was a chance to regroup, build new relationships and recognise each other as leaders #ChoosingToChallenge.