4 March 2024

Eight ways to celebrate International Women's Day in the Illawarra

| Dione David
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Artist Melissa Ritchie in front of artworks

Melissa Ritchie is one of the exhibiting artists at an IWD exhibition in Wollongong. Photo: Supplied.

Diverse works from 36 Illawarra artists will converge next week for an annual International Women’s Day (IWD) showcase at Project Contemporary Artspace.

This year’s exhibition title (and IWD theme) ‘Count Her In: Accelerating gender equality through economic empowerment’ seeks to paint a picture of “embedded inequalities in our society”.

Exhibition coordinator and artist Sue Bessell says the showcase is ready to play its part in the IWD’s mission to accelerate women’s equality.

“This year’s theme reflects several important local, national and worldwide movements that have questioned embedded inequalities in our society,” she says.

“For many years women have been largely ignored in the pantheon of art history.

“Local women artists in the Illawarra have come together in this year’s annual International Women’s Day exhibition to express and celebrate their creative achievements, challenge inequalities and advocate for a more inclusive and equal society.”

The exhibition celebrates our region’s rich and dynamic creative art practices, with diverse artworks and mediums including collage, textiles, limited edition prints, digital media and photography, drawing, sculpture, artist books, ceramics and paintings from local emerging and established artists.

Artist Susan McAlister in front of artworks

Contemporary visual artist Susan McAlister will also exhibit. Photo: Supplied.

This year the exhibition will be officially opened by Wollongong Citizen of the Year for 2024 Dr Aunty Barbara Nicholson on Saturday 9 March at 6 pm at Project Contemporary Artspace with performances by Sound of KoKo (Rhea Mangles & Kachina).

“She’s an exceptional Indigenous leader, teacher, poet, storyteller, role model, activist and an incredible advocate for disadvantaged and incarcerated people,” Sue says.

“We also have two extraordinarily talented slam poets Adara Enthaler and Jamilla Dempsey – they’re so punchy and dynamic; it’ll be fantastic.”

Sue says audiences should expect to be inspired by the entertainment, speakers and a “beautiful, strong display of great work by local artists, celebrating local creativity”.

This includes Sue’s own collection of four works, using a combination of acrylic painting and collage depicting the coastline of her neighbourhood – North Wollongong.

“I go swimming down there every second day, so it’s imprinted in my brain,” she says. “You’ll see the harbour, scenes from the Blue Mile and the rocks around there.”

Even with the International Women’s Day Illawarra Luncheon 2024 sold out, the exhibition is just one way to mark the occasion.

Here are our picks.

Banner for charity event at Nan Tien Temple featuring women meditating

This guided meditation and tai chi event is part of a greater movement. Image: Nan Tien Temple.

Nan Tien International Women’s Day 2024 Charity Meditation Fundraiser

When: Sunday 3 March, 9:30 am to 12:15 pm
Nan Tien Temple, 180 Berkeley Road, Berkeley
General admission $20, temple tour $5, book here.

The biggest regional guided meditation and tai chi event is here to conjure the collective bliss of mindfulness at Nan Tien Temple in honour of the UN’s International Women’s Day (IWD), and to raise funds for Illawarra Women’s Health Centre. The Temple gate opens at 8:45 am, and registration takes place at 9 am for a 9:30 am start. Aside from guided tai chi and meditation there will be a blessing for women (chanting and prayer), a talk from a resident monastic about the Buddhist perspective on wealth and a free financial resilience and empowerment workshop by Rural Financial Counselling Service.

Guided tours are also optional, and bookings are essential. Please ensure you bring a bottle of water and sunhat for tai chi.


Women embrace in the banner for Kiama's International Women's Day celebration

Don’t miss this wonderful weekend of community on the coast. Image: Laughter House.


International Women’s Day Kiama

When: Thursday 7 March, 7:30 to 9 pm and Friday 8 March, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm
Where: La Petite Grande, Black Beach Reserve, Kiama
Cost: From $30 to $99, book here.

Kiama’s resident “get stuff done” lady Tamara Campbell (aka Kiki) is putting on a fabulous day of fun and inspiring conversations, talks and workshops for International Women’s Day. Expect incredible local women sharing amazing, funny and inspirational stories with other women (though men are welcome to attend).

On Thursday from 7:30 pm the Kiki/Tamara De-masking show will premiere – a show for all genders. On Friday, speakers, workshops, morning tea, lunch and entertainment are lined up.

Banner for Day of Connection at Bellambi Neighbourhood Centre

Don’t miss out on this IWD event, fostering connection. Image: Women Illawarra Facebook.

A Day of Connection

When: Thursday 7 March, 9:30 am
Where: Bellambi Neighbourhood Centre
Cost: From free to $60, book here.

Starting with a welcome by Dharawal language expert and storyteller Jodi Edwards at 9:30 am, get ready for a day of connection at Bellambi Neighbourhood Centre. At 9:40 am the “Illawarra Nature Stories and Songs” segment brings Jodie together with oral storyteller and improviser Lillian Rodrigues-Pang and creativity expert and music therapist Ann Lhmann-Kult in a celebration of the natural environment, followed by a number of exercises to connect attendees through creativity and truth.

Banner for Shellhabrour City Council's International Women's Day 2024 celebration featuring the Illustrated profile of a woman made from flowers

Get set to be inspired by this incredible lineup of speakers. Image: Shellharbour City Council.

International Women’s Day at Shellharbour Civic Centre

When: Friday 8 March, 8:30 to 10 am
Where: Shellharbour Civic Centre, 76 Cygnet Avenue, Shellharbour City Centre
Cost: $2, book here.

Enjoy morning tea and listen to a fantastic panel of women including Maddison Lacey (Acroamazing), digital journalist Rachael Knowles, Caitlin Marshall (Makeshift), Jamie Stacic (Crown Traffic Services) and Carly Bishop (Carly’s Coffee Couriers). The inspiring keynote speaker will be Sarah Williams, who founded a not-for-profit organisation fighting to end sexual violence, What Were You Wearing. Last year Sarah led a nightlife safety campaign, collecting more than 20,000 signatures on a petition to the NSW Government that resulted in the amendment of responsible service of alcohol laws to mandate drink spiking education for all NSW venue and bar staff. The year before, she developed Australia’s first sexual assault service for music festivals.

The panel will be emceed by local radio presenter Bella Leone and the $2 donation will go to Sarah Williams’ foundation What Were You Wearing Australia.

Trigger warning: There may be discussions of sexual violence and drink spiking. Please only attend if you are safe and comfortable to do so. We will have resources on the day for anyone wanting to reach out to any services. However we always recommend 1800 RESPECT if overwhelmed or triggered.

International Women's Day at Crooked River Wines banner

A long and luxurious lunch with wine is an excellent way to celebrate IWD. Image: Crooked River Wines.

International Women’s Day at Crooked River Winery

When: Friday 8 March, noon to 3 pm
Where: Crooked River Wines, 11 Willowvale Road, Gerringong
Cost: $89; to book phone 4234 0975 or email [email protected].

Crooked River Wines is hosting its first ever International Women’s Day Luncheon to celebrate women. Guests can enjoy a three-course alternate-drop menu, cocktails and handcrafted Crooked River Wines throughout the event.

Two local businesswomen will attend to speak, honouring this year’s IWD theme ‘Count Her In: Accelerating gender equality through economic empowerment’.

International Women's Day banner for Warilla Sports Club featuring the illustrated profile of a woman made of other women

Lunch comes with a side of inspiration at the Warilla Sporties. Image: Warilla Sports Club.

International Women’s Day at Warilla Sporties

When: Friday 8 March, noon
Where: Warilla Sports Club, 54 McGregor Avenue, Barrack Heights
Cost: $35, book here.

This delightful IWD luncheon at Warillia “Sporties” will feature special guest speaker Leanne Senn. Leanne will share her inspiring journey as the first woman warden at the Mount Keira Scout Camp and her remarkable fundraising efforts.

Celebrating the strength and achievements of women with a two-course meal and drinks. On the menu will be a choice between salmon with mash, veggies and caper butter sauce or grilled chicken with pumpkin and couscous salad, followed by petits fours for dessert.

Artist Anita Mulrooney in front of artworks

Anita Mulrooney will exhibit at the annual IWD exhibition at Project Contemporary Artspace. Photo: Supplied.

Count Her In: Accelerating gender equality through economic empowerment – opening night

When: Saturday 9 March, 6 pm
Where: Project Contemporary Artspace, 255 Keira Street, Wollongong
Cost: Free.

Mark IWD with the opening of this incredible exhibition of works from 36 Illawarra women artists. The exhibition will run from Wednesday 6 March until Sunday 24 March during gallery hours (Wednesday to Friday 10 am to 5 pm and Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to 4 pm).

Opening night takes place on Saturday 9 March with talks, performances and nibbles. Grab your girls (and guys – all are welcome) and get ready to be inspired.

Banner for Illawarra Women's Day of Dance and Culture featuring stylised illustration of dance

Diverse dance, music, entertainment and food, with an underlying inclusion model. Image: Healthy Cities Illawarra.

Illawarra Women’s Day of Dance and Culture

When: Friday 15 March, 11:30 am
Where: Main Auditorium, Wollongong Town Hall, corner Crown and Kembla streets, Wollongong
Cost: Adult $30, concession $25, children under six free, book here.

This annual event beckons women from diverse cultures and backgrounds to connect in a safe space, sharing traditional dances, music, and delicious food. A ticket not only grants you access to a diverse experience of dance, music, entertainment and delicious three-course lunch by Balinese Spice Magic, but also operates on a pay-it-forward model to make it as accessible as possible for all women to attend.

There will also be free women’s health checks and information, raffle prizes, a children’s break-out room and play space and non-alcoholic drinks. Funds raised will be reinvested for future women’s (and children’s) programs and events facilitated by HCI in collaboration with its community partners.

This event is exclusively for women.

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