THERESE Rein (pictured), one of Australia’s most successful female entrepreneurs, led the charge for equality and women’s rights today in Brisbane.
The founder of the international employment agency Ingeus and wife of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, has built an empire with more than 70 offices in Australia, UK, France, Switzerland, Germany, Korea, Sweden and Poland.
The key speaker at an International Women’s Day event at the Brisbane Women’s Club this morning, Rein spoke about the progress of women’s rights, women in business and her work to help stop domestic violence.
She says Australian women have the choice to be whatever they want to be.
“We can be heads of state, heads of government, CEO’s, mothers, self-employed – the list is endless and it’s not the same everywhere in the world,” she says.
“We have a big environment in Australia and then we have a micro-environment, which is our families, and inside some families and some communities, even in this country, women don’t experience the same kind of freedom, which is actually their right and this is something we’re still working on.”
Rein received a Human Rights Medal in 2010 and believes women should never take their rights for granted.
“This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating a century of women fighting for equal rights, which we should all be grateful for and which we should never take for granted,” she says.
“It’s true that not all women in the world have the rights that we take for granted – the right to speak freely, the right to a trial by jury, the right to choose government, the right to choose to marry, or not to marry – there are many examples.
“We’re not divided by gender and one day, people are going to stop commenting on the fact that we have a woman as Governor General or Prime Minister – they’ll just be people holding up half the sky.”
Rein also spoke about her current work to assist women who are victims of domestic violence.
“I recently met with the Equal Opportunities Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick and we were talking about some women in this country who are struggling with domestic violence,” she says.
“A report was released yesterday that says that domestic violence costs x amount of money each year, but we’re talking about people here – people who should have the right to live free of violence.
“I talked to her about what can be done – particularly in regard to workplaces that can support women and other practical things that can be done to support women experiencing domestic violence and who want to leave.”
International Women's Day is a global event celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.
The anniversary provides a great opportunity to reflect on women’s achievements and the key milestones for Queensland women in overcoming discrimination and advancing equality during the past 100 years.
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