INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2018
Shepparton deputy mayor Seema Abdullah believes there are a multitude of barriers facing women today, but the region is a good place to support and encourage women.
A Pakistani national, Cr Abdullah migrated to Australia 12 years ago, arriving in Shepparton just under a decade ago.
Initially overwhelmed by having to find her feet in a foreign country, as well as establish her place in the local community, Cr Abdullah worked her way into community groups, volunteer initiatives and local government, before becoming the deputy mayor last year.
As a member of the Greater Shepparton Women’s Charter Alliance Advisory Committee, her role is to support and promote women in leadership roles and all levels of decision-marking.
She said women of all ability and advantage faced issues around equity, from working professionals, managers and newly-arrived migrants to those who were unemployed, educated or victims of family violence.
‘‘I think a significant issue facing women is to have the opportunity to grow in their personal, professional and community space; there’s questions around how can they do it, how do they access opportunities, and unfortunately there is a gap there,’’ she said.
‘‘While there are opportunities out there, women need to have the will and belief in themselves to come out of their comfort zone, look around and find their role models.’’
Cr Abdullah said Greater Shepparton offered many opportunities for women to grow and connect, from the women’s advisory committee to hosting former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in the town on Monday.
But she said there was always room for improvement, and that greater attention to expanding local opportunities for women was vital.
‘‘I would say there’s always an opportunity to do things better, and while we are on the right track, we can do many more things,’’ she said.
‘‘I believe it’s important to engage with the community to give women the confidence that anything is possible, be positive about opportunities and look at the brighter side of the story.
‘‘We want to celebrate everything about women’s lives, and women should have that confidence in themselves to face challenges.’’