Jennifer King – ABC Everyday
It’s International Women’s Day, and we want to celebrate the women in your life who might not get the recognition they deserve.
Tell us about a woman who has had an impact on your life — big or small — and we’ll collate and share your responses.
Not sure what to say? We’ve asked a few well-known Australians to lead the way by sharing a story about a woman who has had their back.
If you’re keen to have a go, you don’t need to write a lot. Send her a quick text, tag her in an Instagram post or share your tribute with us in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some messages to inspire you.
Writer and performer Becky Lucas, who has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and is preparing for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, chose to thank two young women.
“My two little sisters Hannah (16) and Charlotte (19) are the funniest and smartest girls I know,” she says.
“This past Christmas they helped me make a really important decision that I had been struggling with.
“We so often disregard younger people’s opinions because we don’t think they can comprehend our busy adult lives, but they actually have so much to offer us because they haven’t been burdened with a bunch of perceived roadblocks that come with getting older.
“Their advice was genuine, caring and, as it turns out, completely right.”
Marcus Graham, a familiar face on Australian screens for the past 30 years, wrote to us about a woman who helped him achieve his dream to act.
“Marge Schonell, otherwise known as Ging, was my grandmother,” he says.
“The moment I remember bonding with her was when I was about five and we played a game of cards called Fish.
“I was a lonely sort of kid and when we played, and it looked like I was going to win [it’s not a very hard game] I’d desperately pretend — very badly, she tells me — that I didn’t in fact have the cards to win.”
“I’d do that just to keep the game and the fun going a little bit longer. I didn’t want it to be over.
“Now when I look back, I think she taught me by her acceptance to value that there is more to games than the winning.
“When I was a teenager I had a very tumultuous time.
“I was out of home at age 15 and when I reached 19 Ging said to me: ‘You know, if you want to give this acting thing a go, why don’t you come and live with me, start doing some English classes and speech classes and join a theatre group and prepare for your audition at the local drama school?’
“That’s exactly what I did. I slept on a fold-out bed for a year in Ging’s sewing room and that year I became a young actor.
“When I graduated, Ging was the one that was there.
“Even now, years later at the haggard old age of 55, I still talk with my grandmother and as I write this, tears are filling my eyes.
“Thank you for giving me a break, for your understanding and simply, for giving me your unconditional love.
“You made me so much better a person and I will never forget you, Ging.”
In 2017, dismayed, like so many others, about the denigration of women online, Dr Kirstin Ferguson started the #CelebratingWomen campaign on Twitter.
Every day for a year, she profiled and celebrated two women from anywhere in the world, through photos and a brief description.
By the end of that year, more than 757 women from 37 countries had been featured, which was turned into the book, Women Kind.
“On International Women’s Day, I recognise my grandmother, Millie Taylor,” Dr Ferguson says.
“Her independent spirit, tenacity and passion for life has been a source of much inspiration to me.
“She remained interested and inquisitive throughout her long life and if my daughters and I inherit even some of her spirit I will consider us very fortunate.”
Dr Ferguson is the Deputy Chair of the ABC board.
Journalist Trent Dalton recently published his debut novel and he knew exactly who he wanted to honour on International Women’s Day.
“I’m often reminded by my gut that my own mother’s life story remains the most harrowing story I’ve ever had the strange and often unsettling honour of being part of. She’s the one,” he says.
“‘Who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever spoken to?’ people ask. Nah, not the Dalai Lama. Nah, not John Howard or Bob Hawke or Priscilla-flippin’-Presley, or Heath Ledger or Matt Damon. Nah, it’s my mum by a damn sight.
“I wrote a book for this brilliant woman called Boy Swallows Universe and if you’ve read it, you’ll know why I wanted to write about her.
“The book’s about all that stuff she said she wouldn’t change. All the pain, all the social suffering, all the madness, all the longing, all the loss, all those bad choices, and all those good choices.
“I wanted to show her all that stuff that seemed so bad was actually the stuff that made me good, made me interesting, made me complex, made me love her so much.
“Although to be honest, the book doesn’t say a tenth of what she’s been through and in turn, for my admiration for her and for coming out the other side of those things.”