what did international women’s day really mean to australians?

We headed down to the Melbourne rally to find out what, and who, people were marching for.

by Alexandra Manatakis
|
09 March 2017, 12:40am

Yesterday women from all over Melbourne and countless backgrounds gathered in solidarity to peacefully march through the city to stand for gender equality.

The event kicked off with speeches that put a particular focus on the ongoing struggle of women and children currently dealing with the devastating and often violent realities of life in offshore detention. Throughout the official address and echoing conversations in the crowd, attendees joined together to celebrate beautiful and diverse presentations of womanhood.

As the march commenced, participants held their colourful, inspiring, thought provoking and often deeply funny signs high and chanted at the top of their voices as the city cheered from the sidelines.

i-D caught up with participants to find out what they were personally rallying for and hear their hopes for the future.

Sha, 24 and Kitty, 24

Why are you marching today?
To pay tribute to the women who have paved the way for the freedoms we hold today, and to rally against the Australian government and particular segments of society that fail to prioritise the lives of women — particularly indigenous, trans, queer and immigrant women.

What do you think are the most urgent issues faced by women in 2017?
In Australia, whilst the framework we exist in has progressed to support equality, the attitudes that pervade society at large remain kinda backward. Deeply entrenched sexism affects everyone.

What are your biggest hopes for the future?
To bring sexuality out of the taboo shadows. We'd love to see compulsory lessons in gender equality and sexuality practiced within the Australian education system, from an appropriately early onset.

Tash, 24 and Claire, 32

Why are you marching today?
Tash: There are so many incredible, influential women in my life and I want to support them.

What are your biggest hopes for the future?
Tash: More female CEOS, more women in male dominated industries and being able to walk down the street at night and feel safe.

Greatest female role models?
Claire: Joni Mitchell.
Tash: Michelle Obama and Gloria Steinem.

Seynab, 19 and Hamida, 19

Why are you marching today?
Hamida: To represent the rights of women, to represent Niqabis.

What are the most urgent issues faced by women in 2017?
Seynab: Victim blaming. No! Men are the problem, women should be able to do what they want, when they want, without being judged. Rape is never a woman's fault, ever.

What are your biggest hopes for the future?
Hamida: Acceptance of refugees because most refugees are female, but we forget that.

Who are your greatest female role models?
Seynab: My mum because she wears the Niqab even when she gets people telling her to 'go back to your country', she gets all this hate but she still stays strong.

Adele, 36

Why are you marching today?
For equality for everyone, mostly for future generations as I am a mum and a teacher.

What does feminism mean in 2017?
Equal rights: the pay parity, violence against women and a recognition that these issues are still happening and to forever keep addressing them.

What are your biggest hopes for the future?
To see more women in leadership and the patriarchy brought down. I also want everyone to be proud to call themselves a feminist.

Greatest female role models?
My mum, she raised me to be a feminist and I want to do the same for my son.

Montana, 25

Greatest female role models?
Frida Kahlo forever, my mum, sister, and grandmother.

Andy, 25

Why are you marching today?
Because I believe in equality for men and women.

What are your biggest hopes for the future?
That we can end rape culture and sex trafficking and obviously secure more rights for trans women.

Greatest female role models?
My favourite fictional character of all time is Storm from X-Men who beats the male leader Cyclops to take over the leadership of the X-Men.

Tara, 30 and Evelyn

Why are you marching today?
It's important to show my daughter that moving forward, we can never be complacent.

What are your biggest hopes for the future?
That one day we don't have to think about gender.

Who are your greatest female role models?
My daughter, honestly. She reminds me that I need to keep moving forward and making change.

Mary Ellen, 94

Why are you marching today?
Because I think women are equal with everything in the world to men, and I love men because we are all equal. In my day, we weren't, we were inferior.

What does feminism mean in 2017?
I think it's great but I don't think it should be necessary in this day and age, women shouldn't have to still fight for their rights — everyone is equal.

Who are your greatest female role models?
I don't have any. Everybody's the same.

Ben, 27 and Caleb, 25

Why are you marching today?
Ben: Because it's 2017, and women aren't even close to being respected equally.

What are your biggest hopes for the future?
Caleb: That mainstream society recognises that the way we are raised to talk about the differences between men and women contributes to the totally different situations between both.

Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women's Coalition (VIRWC) Sierra Leone Women

Why are you marching today?
To recognise that immigrant and refugee women in Australia experience a lot of inequality — they suffer much much more in many senses.

What do you think are the most urgent issues faced by women in 2017?
Family violence, lack of opportunities, huge social isolation and lack of a voice in mainstream Australia.

What are your biggest hopes for the future?
We want to have more voice in mainstream Australia. Things are good on a policy level, but when it comes to implementation, it's always the mainstream communities that get the resources. Even in activities like this, we weren't even approached to speak.

Kat, 19 and Audrey, 19

Why are you marching today?
Kat: To show we are fucking angry that we still have to protest for our rights.

What does feminism mean in 2017?
Kat: It's a time for men to realise it's not about us becoming superior, but us becoming equal.

What do you think are the most urgent issues faced by women today?
Kat: Domestic violence.
Audrey: Abortion rights.

What are your biggest hopes for the future?
Kat: That the movement keeps growing and that IWD becomes more about us being proud to be women, rather than us fighting for our rights.

Fernanda, 36 and Lenin, 4

What do you think are the most urgent issues faced by women in 2017?
In Australia, we see Indigenous women and people of colour always struggling much more. I'm from Brazil, and in Brazil where we don't have abortion rights and a woman dies every two days for illegal and unsafe abortion.

What are your biggest hopes for the future?
I hope for a revolution. We need to change the whole system for equal rights.

Credits


Text Alexandra Manatakis
Photography Tasha Tylee

Tagged:
feminism
Culture
protest
women's rights
melbourne
international women's day
gender quality