5 September 2023

Leading women's advocate set to present empowering message to Wagga audience

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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woman standing in front of sign

Kate Jenkins will be the keynote speaker at Women in Business Wagga Wagga’s Women of Influence 2023 event. Photo: WBWW.

The former Sex Discrimination Commissioner for the Australian Human Rights Commission will be in Wagga Wagga to share her insights, career achievements and experiences on gender equality and discrimination.

Women in Business Wagga Wagga (WBWW) is set to host Kate Jenkins as part of the Women of Influence 2023 event at The Range Function Centre on Thursday (7 September).

Ms Jenkins is a leader, lawyer, adviser and advocate who has led cultural reform and advanced diversity, inclusion and performance in Australian workplaces, sport, parliament and education. She was recently the FIFA Women’s World Cup ambassador.

Women in Business Wagga secretary and Collective Position director Rachel Sweeney said the organisation wanted to bring Ms Jenkins to Wagga because she had made the biggest impact on working women’s lives through her work as the commissioner.

“She’s an amazing leader and has set the path for a more equitable workplace for women in the future,” Ms Sweeney said.

“She’s commissioned, edited and authored a range of reports into the working culture of numerous industries across Australia, including legal, sporting, universities, mining and defence.

“Her work in looking into the culture of the Australian Parliament set the new Respect at Work Act, which means workplaces have to take reasonable steps to prevent workplace sexual harassment.”

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Ms Sweeney said with the WBWW’s annual keynote address, the organisation always hoped to bring to Wagga influential women who had inspired important conversations.

“A lot of businesses in Sydney and Melbourne get access to leadership drivers, but I’m not sure how often small to medium businesses in Wagga would get access to people like Kate Jenkins,” she said.

“It’s important to enable that access and message to be heard in a thriving regional place.”

As a small-business owner, Ms Sweeney always tries to secure her team seats at important tables.

“As a sponsor, we [Collective Position] are going to be part of the roundtable that Kate is going to be running for some of the local leaders … it’s an exciting opportunity,” she said.

“I’m excited for my colleagues, especially young women here in Wagga, to have the chance to enter the room and learn about Kate’s amazing work.”

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Ms Sweeney said supporting women in business was vital because women made up just under half of the workforce.

“Under 20 per cent are CEOs, just over one-third hold key management and board positions, and a woeful 18 per cent are board chairs,” she said.

She said it was disheartening to see the gender pay gap where women still earned 87 cents in the dollar compared with men.

Ms Sweeney said it was disturbing to see women aged 18-24 were the most likely to report being subjected to both sexual violence and harassment, with 35 per cent saying they had been sexually harassed in the past year.

“That [sexual violence statistics] really cuts to the heart of the work that needs to be done,” she said.

“Employers, leaders, teachers, young women and men should attend the event because we often speak endlessly about the problem.

“It is about ensuring we have empowered young women and local leaders to address these issues.”

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