We asked our CEO Eileen Hannagan to reflect on the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day – each for equal.
I’m hoping you all had a kind, caring and compassionate International Women’s Day yesterday.
Every year when this day comes along it allows me to reflect on the women who’ve mentored and guided me over the years. I think about my grandmother who was one of the pioneers of the Australian women’s labour movement, of my mother – an opera singer and concert pianist – who raised 8 children while single-handedly running a catering business, of my sisters, my colleagues and my friends all of whom support each other every single day, and my daughter who has just last week started her first week as a medical intern at St Vincent’s, whose tenacity, courage and intellect inspires me more than anyone I know.
I also reflect on how far we’ve come in terms of women’s rights over the course of my lifetime. Some of what the women on our staff have achieved would have been unthinkable years ago. We continue to watch glass ceilings shatter. An immense achievement – all thanks to us reclaiming our power and working together to change the narrative.
But there is still so much further left to go. I reflect on the wage gap, the super gap, and the wealth gap. I reflect on how disproportionately intimate partner violence still affects women. I think of the survivors, and the women who bear intersecting disadvantages and trauma. I pray for the next generation. And I ask myself this, how can we at Lifehouse collectivise to create a better workplace and a better environment for all women both within our walls and in the broader community?
The answer I think is to trade in a capital well known to women, and that is care. When we strive towards an economy of care, we all benefit, regardless of gender. Care is something we are very familiar with in the health industry. Let it be what guides us in every decision we make in all aspects of our lives. Let it be an essential value that we aim to instil in our daughters but perhaps even more importantly, our sons, so that the next generation gallops towards true equity.
When I walk around the wards I am filled with hope. On all levels of our organisation we have women working together to change lives. To heal and to console, and to work towards a future without cancer.
So, thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the phenomenal women and non-binary folk on our staff, you all continue to amaze me. When women work together, there is no stopping us!
And finally, I have a challenge for the men. There is finite space in this world. What are you willing to give up in order to see the women in your life succeed, how can you be a better ally and advocate? We all have to be in this together.