Today, Saturday 8 March 2014 marks International Women’s Day. This week, all over the world, thousands of women are gathering at events, conferences and networking sessions to celebrate achievements and to continue to motivate and inspire one another.
Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the annual Australian Institute of Management International Women’s Day Debate. A room filled with 2000+ women (and men, although they were severely outnumbered) it was an event filled with wow-factor from the moment I hung my purple diamontee lanyard around my neck.
After welcome drinks on arrival we poured into the Great Hall at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre to be impressed by a purple and green lighting lit space filled with 200 odd tables laden with goodie bags, hand crafted art and mouth watering lunch.
Entree was an alternate drop of Salad of baby beets, roast carrots, crumbled fetta, grilled pear, asparagus, almond aioli and rocket pesto and Tarte of sauteed zucchini, fennel, potato and lemon thyme, capsicum, cucumber, goats curd, tomato jam and olive tapenade. I had the salad and savoured each al dente root vegetable with fresh, fragrant pesto and sweet shards of pear.
As we munched the event commenced – kicking off with an epic rendition of Bill Withers’ Lean on Me sang by a glittering robed choir and the most amazingly talented 9 year old I’ve ever heard! Prizes were drawn, laughs were had, more prizes were drawn and then it was time for main. For me it was Crispy skin breast of chicken, roasted Italian vegetable salad, fried potato gnocchi and basil pesto where my neighbours received Braised beef cheeks, beef fillet medallion, truffled mashed potato, roast vegetable and bourguignon sauce. The chicken was ridiculously juicy and moist and the mini basil gnocchi’s bursts of potato deliciousness.
Then the lights dimmed and the debaters were introduced to the tune of the very apt Run the World (Girls) (thanks Beyonce!) and filed up on stage. The debate itself was around the intriguing topic “That Women Need to Lean in or Miss Out”. I still don’t think I fully understand what that means but it was nevertheless an interesting argument put forward by both the Affirmative and the Negative. For the Affirmative it meant leaning in and being a “YES” person. Displaying strong and empowering qualities, not apologising for being just as driven and as capable as a male in the workplace and being the best person you can be. The Negative argued that by leaning back they didn’t cave to the perceptions of what women should or should not be. They found and paved their own pathway to success and did it on their terms. They leant back and assessed what it was that they truly wanted. Who they wanted see in the mirror everyday. Whether they prioritised work, family, themselves, changed careers or dumped it all for travel and wanderlust it didn’t matter because they were being true to self.
The Negative team’s argument (which in the end won them the debate) struck a cord with me. And as 2014 progresses – with scary but exciting speed – I realise I need to lean back and assess my goals and how I want to achieve them, not what they are. So this year I pledge to be the best person I can be whilst seeking to strike the right balance of work and play, of fitness and rest, of health and moderation and most importantly time with family and friends and time for myself. As my remarkable, strong and quite simply awe-inspiring Mama puts it –
Life is a marathon, not a sprint”.
Both teams though had the key point that we women need to stick together, to support one another in our endeavours and help each other achieve our goals whatever they may be. We are unique and diverse and we are so lucky in this country that we can choose to shape our future. Surround yourself with people who elevate you – not bring you down. And make your future the BEST it can be, however you choose to interpret it.
As we listened to the 6 inspiring speakers – Affirmative team Danielle Duell (former CEO of my favourite Spicers Retreats), Joanne Jessop (CEO of Multicap) and Rosemary Vilgan (CEO of QSuper) and Negative team Sharon Schoenborn (QLD Director of Microsoft), Sara Hatten-Masterson (Director of The Image Boutique) and Cassandra Heilbronn (Lawyer at Clayton Utz) – our mains were cleared and desserts placed before us. For this alternative drop I seriously hit the jackpot.
The Salted caramel chocolate tart with caramel sauce was overwhelmingly delicious with lusciously smooth and intensely dense chocolate and rich salted caramel filling encased in a crumbly, buttery pastry shell and topped with berry compote and puffs of cream. Despite myself I simply couldn’t stop until at least all the chocolate filling had been spooned out…it was soft and gooey and stuck to the roof of the mouth, melting away on into heavenly chocolate goodness. The saltiness of the caramel layer on the bottom with the salted caramel sauce paired with the tartness of the berries was the ultimate combination and a truly perfect finish to the luncheon (which collectively raised over $57,000 dollars for local charities!)
To continue celebrating women, tomorrow I will be joined by my work colleagues as we run to raise funds for women with breast cancer in the Mater International Women’s Day Fun Run. A team bonding exercise as well as contributing toward a great cause, our pink T-shirts are ready and waiting. Plus we’ll be rewarding ourselves at Mondo Organics afterward! Foodie details to follow of course…
Are you doing/have done anything to celebrate International Women’s Day?