Soroptimist International Port Pirie hosted an International Women’s Day lunch on Friday, bringing women from the region together, providing them with the opportunity to be surrounded with fellow women who share the same mindset of making a difference for women across all nations.
The lunch, hosted by the Port Football Club saw women from all walks of life come together to celebrate the internationally held day, which was originally proposed in 1901 to honour the women’s rights movement and assist in achieving universal suffrage for all women.
The day featured speaker Melanie Baak, who not only spoke about her journey into creating a school in South Sudan to educate girls but also the journey of her mother in law, Abuk, who has lived in South Sudan her entire life.
Mel expanded on the life which Abuk lead, which included the hardships of losing two children and having to live without an eldest child who had been conscripted to fight in the war.
She lived day by day, providing for the rest of her family,
In the meantime, Mel explains how at first she started to complete a medical degree but shortly changed to education, she volunteered her time in Adelaide and also overseas and decided to work towards increasing literacy numbers in South Sudan through a charity called Timpir.
The two families, Mel’s and her husband’s, were brought together not only through love, but through the fight for education for all.
She found that in order for herself to make a difference, education was the way for progress and the way she could best help other people.
Not only did Mel educate the less fortunate girls in South Sudan, but she also taught her nearly 90-year-old grandmother that the views she had of Mel marrying a black man, are perceived differently now; an integral part of education that has come through in later generations.
Mel’s talk was well perceived. Her take home message was to try and help people recognise the privilege that women have in Australia and how we can work with our sisters in less advantaged contexts.
“My interpretation of IWD is that it is a celebration of what it is to be a woman and all the things that we have achieved in our lives. But also a time to reflect on how far we have still got to come, until women can be all that we can be.”
Deb Tregilgas, treasurer of the Soroptimist International Port Pirie explained that Mel was previously invited to a previous Soroptimist meeting who had amazing stories to tell about herself and other women, that being the reason behind her talk.
“Part of what we do is educating women and she was perfect for that.”