International Women's Day: Driven to make a difference

Published 6:30am 8 March 2024

International Women's Day: Driven to make a difference
Words by Kylie Knight

Long-time Zonta members Marie Stewart, Sue Marshall and June Teller say making a difference in the community drew them to the organisation and has kept them involved for a combined 55 years.

The women are part of the Zonta Club of Redcliffe, which has been running for 44 years and strives to improve the lives of women and girls.

Marie has been in the Redcliffe Club for 17 years, June for 11 and Sue has belonged to three clubs since joining Zonta in 1997 - Sydney, Christchurch and now Redcliffe.

“I was interested in volunteering with a group that was making a difference to the local community. It was all women and that did appeal to me … that women can be leaders,” June explains.

“To me, it was what they stand for and the advocacy. Girls have got to be encouraged to be educated,” Marie adds.

It’s a mission which ties in well with Zonta’s theme for International Women’s Day - Count Her In.

Sue says her mother held the view that women could do anything and it’s something she took into her professional life, particularly during her time as a police officer in New Zealand.

Sue, Marie and June say being part of Zonta allows them to help advance education for women and girls which in turn creates opportunities.

Marie says this is why they are keen to connect with schools and create so-called Z Clubs to engage young women.

A Golden Z Club has been established at UniSC’s Moreton Bay campus, and Zonta Redcliffe members are hoping to re-invigorate it as the new university year ramps up.

Zonta is an organisation which can make a difference at a local level but also on the international stage.

“Internationally we have a representation at the United Nations – one of the few groups of its kind to do so. It is significant because not many volunteer organisations have that,” Sue says.

Locally, big projects have included creating safe rooms at police stations for women reporting domestic violence and red benches to raise awareness of the issue, the Zonta Says No to Violence Against Women initiative and 16 days of activism which begins each year with a breakfast to raise awareness and concludes with a flag-raising ceremony.

Zonta’s focus extends beyond domestic violence, also advocating for gender equity, education for women and girls, stopping child marriage, and taking action on climate change.

Marie says it is important to engage with the next generation, so this important work can continue well into the future.

To find out more about the Zonta Club of Redcliffe, email info@zontaredcliffe.org.au. The group meets on the fourth Monday evening of the month.

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