Big party planned for Women's Day

GAI Newman and Cheryl Anderson are among Coffs Coast women looking forward to celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on Tuesday.

Both working in community services, they have already been on community radio to promote the services now available to women in the Coffs Harbour area.

“International Women’s Day is all about empowering women in their lives and in the workforce and helping the community to recognise women’s valuable role in society,” Gai said.

“The day celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women and validates their position in life as mothers, sisters and daughters,” Cheryl said.

A century ago, when the first IWD was held in Europe, programs and services like the Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre, which Gai Newman co-ordinates and Abcare’s Aboriginal foster care project, which Cheryl Anderson co-ordinates, would have been unbelievable to women.

In 1911, most Coffs Harbour women were struggling to raise families in timber shacks lacking running water, indoor plumbing or electric light and in many cases also lacking adequate clothes, shoes and even food.

Today Gai can point to services like free legal advice, free counselling and free tax help, available to all but especially popular with women, who make up 80% of the centre’s clients.

She is about to set up a community internet hotspot at the neighbourhood centre, offering basic internet access for people like newly re-settled women, who have no computer or internet access at home.

March 8 will see three different International Women’s Day events in Coffs Harbour, including a free morning tea at the Cavanbah Centre from 10am to noon.

Zonta will host the 2011 IWD Breakfast at C.ex Coffs in Vernon St from 7am to 8.30am.

Guest speaker will be Karen Willis, the executive officer of the Rape Crisis Centre in Sydney, plus Lorraine Gordon, executive director of security4women, and two local high school students.

Tickets are $30, available from C.ex Coffs and Zonta members. Inquiries 6654 0118.

Coffs Harbour City Council will host a free IWD morning tea at the Cavanbah Centre from 10am to noon which will highlight the achievements of women in the local community, especially women with a disability and women working with people with disabilities.

Guest speakers will include: Louise Salmon, a local university student with cerebral palsy who is currently completing a PhD in psychology; Lexi Duffy from Coffs Coast Autism; and Suzanne Lee, the program co-ordinator with Respite and Recreation Inc.

There will also be a performance by the Sing Australia choir and song signing by the Coffs Harbour deaf community.

International Women’s Day 100th anniversary luncheon is presented by Yellow Pages, and Novotel Pacific Bay Resort. The cost is $55pp for a two-course lunch plus canapés and champagne. To book, visit or phone 6627 4444. Proceeds will benefit Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter.

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