Friday, March 9, 2012

International Women's Day March 8 2012

Happy International Women's Day!

IWD at Lake George

International Women's Day at Lake George Day VIEW Club.
Lake George Day VIEW Club was host to visitors from the Goulburn Day VIEW
Club and the Bungendore Bridge Club when International Women's Day (IWD),
was celebrated at the March luncheon meeting. 
Guest speaker was Zydre Pember who gave a fascinating account of her
experiences as an expatriate Australian who over a 32 year period only lived
in Australia for 4 years. Zydre contrasted her life living for 13 years in
three different African countries: Malawi, Botswana and Ethiopia; eight
years in Bangkok, Thailand ; and five years working in Geneva, but living
just over the border in France. Zydre held the attention of the audience
with a lively speech sprinkled with humour, danger, poverty, pathos, and
Zydre made us envious when she described what it was like living like a
Queen for 21 years: without cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing and a baby
sitter always available. With her free time she undertook voluntary work,
learnt to sew and crochet and took up jogging. She also explained that this
life of luxury was balanced by the responsibility of being responsible for
the lives of their employees including bailing out of jail her gardener who
had been stabbed.
It was in Botswana, a politically stable and peaceful place, that she felt
most frightened when she woke up to the sound of rifle and machine gun fire,
explosions and tanks rumbling down the road. Zydre, her mother and her
three boys crawled into a secure corridor in the dark and waited until all
activity ceased. The South African defense force had invaded Gabarone, the
capital city, to flush out ANC sympathisers and activists who had taken
refuge in Botswana. Not only were these people flushed out, they were
killed, shot and blown up in their homes.

Ethiopia was the first country where Zydre witnessed extreme poverty, felt
pity then apathy, guilt and then anger at feeling apathetic. Zydre opened
our eyes to the plight of young girls who could live out their lives as
destitute outcasts if it was not for The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital which
was founded by Australian Dr Catherine Hamlin and her late husband, Dr Reg
Hamlin from New Zealand. The Fistula Hospital is dedicated to the treatment
and care of women who suffer horrendous childbirth injuries, known as
obstetric fistula.

Of Thailand, Zydre said that she tolerated her eight years there more than
she liked it and was very pleased to spend five years living in France and
exploring Europe while working in Geneva. Zydre's speech was very well
received by all who attended and she concluded by saying that all people, no
matter where, crave love, cherish family and want security. In the absence
of social security, the family unit is critical to survival as is obtaining
good well paid work. Zydre and Robert Pember retired in 2007 and enjoy
living on acreage in the hills overlooking Bungendore.

Margaret Gooch (National Councillor), Anne McVilly-Price, Zydre Pember
(guest speaker), Brenda Rogers

In this week where women around
the world are celebrated, it is great to focus on women not as victims,
but as agents of change. This was the message yesterday at the
UN Women breakfast. The Lake George day VIEW Club was represented
by Lydia Teodorowych at the National Convention Centre where the special
luncheon was held.

ABC war correspondent Sally Sara spoke of her experiences on the
frontline in Afghanistan, an environment she described as having
no 'practical' barriers that excluded women - no toilet facilities,
armed men who throw pebbles at you while you sleep, suicide bombers
at your local supermarket, interviews with 'warlords'.Not the sort of experience I would relish.
Sally spoke about a female helicopter pilot in the Afghan army who
takes her 5 year old daughter with her on missions and has been doing so since her daughter was 2 months old
She does this because there is no
child care. Her sister who was also a pilot died during child birth in 2007.
She spoke about women in India, living in slums in extreme poverty,
buoyed by the opportunities for their granddaughters receiving the school
education that they did not. Without people such as Sally sharing these
personal stories, the rest of us remain ignorantly in the bubble of our
safety zone. Sally has now returned to be the ABC's regional and rural
affairs correspondent, and a much deserved rest from the battle front she experienced.

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