Hi friends! It’s been a busy time in the world of Missing Perspectives, working out how to cement ourselves as a company, gathering some amazing stories and interview opportunities, navigating cool new partnerships and even planning some events for you, our community so watch this space for details on those (: Basically we’re working on a lot of wonderful projects that we can’t wait to share with you soon! But in the meantime, I’d love to tell you all about this great event Phoebe and I got to go to, on behalf of Missing Perspectives last week. An International Women’s Day breakfast held by the incredible team at The Remarkable Woman.
Now, we wouldn’t be us if we didn’t take a minute to acknowledge that these breakfasts, while wonderful opportunities for networking and learning from other women are often inaccessible to many, because of how much a ticket or table is and the fact that they’re held early in the morning, at a time when so many women are deep in the daily trenches of motherhood, work and other caring responsibilities. This is something we’re trying to keep top of mind as we plan our own events.
The Remarkable Woman is the brainchild of its CEO and founder, former financial advisor Shivani Gopal, (Shiv to her friends) who knows all too well the power that comes with financial control and agency. As a result The Remarkable Woman exists as a hub for women who are seeking financial knowledge, upskilling opportunities, the chance to network with others and gives its members access to all the resources you could think of if you want to build a career. They really invest in you and pride themselves on the community they’ve built. If you want to get to the boardroom, make them your first pit stop.
Shiv is passionate about challenging the pay gap that is honestly more of a chasm in this country.
Did you know that Australian women on average still earn $26,000 less than men? Women only represent 19.4% of CEOs as well as 34.5% of key management personnel. 22.3% of boards and governing bodies have no female directors. That has to change. And further to that, all those women cannot look the same. Equality means nothing if it’s not intersectional.
Breaking the insidious bias faced by women everywhere (not coincidentally the theme of International Women’s Day 2022) was the common thread between the three fabulous speakers we had the privilege of listening to and learning from. There was the multiple Walkley Award winning journalist and commentator Tracey Spicer, a stalwart of the media industry for over 30 years. As a self-proclaimed ‘bogan from Brisbane’ Tracey highlighted the importance of never forgetting that class can play a huge role in a person’s privilege. Add to that layers of sexism, misogyny and eventually ageism, and you pretty much have a masterclass in how messy it can be to be a woman in the public eye. But Tracey’s tough. She’s had to be. You don’t pursue legal action against a major television network for unfair dismissal if you’re not.
Jana Pittman is also an incredible force of nature, being the only woman to compete at both the Summer and Winter Olympics, even completing hurdles while seven months pregnant. You’re not supposed to get pregnant at the peak of your time as an Olympic athlete but Jana did. And when sponsors left her in the dust after finding out she was pregnant, she fought back and eventually managed to renegotiate their support.
After an extremely public career with a red hot microscope on her every move as a young woman, often vilified and harassed by the press, she left behind Olympic Sport and is in the process of retraining as an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Oh, and she’s also completing a PhD while a mother to four children and pregnant with twins. The amount of plates Jana balances had our heads spinning and we found ourselves in awe of her energy but also simultaneously her boundaries and her ability to understand how her own psyche works. She knows her limits, but she also knows that she’s at her best when busy. And don’t worry; she’s keenly aware of the fact that the way she lives her life is not for everyone nor is the privilege she enjoys something everyone has the safety of.
Speaking of which, there’s no question that our favourite and arguably the most captivating speaker of the breakfast was Aminata Conteh-Biger. Aminata is the Founder and CEO of the Aminata Maternal Foundation. In 1999, Aminata was captured by rebel forces during the civil war in Sierra Leone, where she was subject to some of the worst sexual and physical trauma a peron can endure. After being held captive for several months, Aminata was freed as part of a negotiated prisoner exchange.
Aminata eventually found herself in Australia and has since committed her career to maternal health. We hope to work with Aminata’s Foundation in a meaningful partnership soon. Maternal health is a particular passion of mine, because without it, I would never have survived. In her powerful speech Aminata reflected - ‘would any of us be here today if motherhood marked an end, not a beginning?’ She challenged attendees at the breakfast to help her break through biases that exist in maternal health - and give her the opportunity and resources to collectively end infant and maternal deaths in Sierra Leone. Aminata noted “Diversity means difference - it just means different. Diversity is who we are, it’s not a trend. I didn’t know I was black until I was in Australia. Bias is my everyday life as a woman of colour.”
That line echoed loudly in my head. Bias is also my everyday life as a woman with a disability yet I am also afforded protection and dignity through the colour of my skin. The nuance of privilege is something we’re always thinking about here at Missing Perspectives - that’s why we exist. We are an antidote to the lack of privilege, recognition and voice given to women and girls everywhere, using the advantages we have to uplift and platform the stories of others who have too often been silent and invisible. Events like this one give us the opportunity to put that mission statement in front of other people with power and privilege as we disrupt and start new conversations that have needed to be had for a long time.