(Australian Associated Press)
Forging a gender-equal world is at the crux of this year’s International Women’s Day. The global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women will also mark a call to action for accelerating gender equality with the 2020 campaign theme #EachforEqual
The expertise, diversity and depth of talent of high-profile Gold Coast women such as Cross Promotions director Jackie Cross, founder and president of Women of Influence Georgia Lane, GC SUNS AFLW player Jacqui Yorston and HOTA CEO Criena Gehrke is indicative of what can be achieved by actively choosing to challenge stereotypes, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements while calling out inequality.
As the equal half in her successful business Cross Promotions with husband Billy, Jackie Cross has seen changes within the entertainment industry paving the way for gender equality.
“From my perspective, the entertainment industry has always been quite fair. We see balanced success and conditions for both women and men so I guess in that way we have been quite unique and lucky,” says Cross. “Certainly 15 years ago, there would have been a degree of sexist behaviour but the very nature of our industry being events and entertainment, holds itself as quite progressive, and equality has been an evolving theme.”
Cross says the Gold Coast business community is energetic, ambitious, progressive and supportive of each other.
“There are so many remarkable Gold Coasters and there are women influencing societies in every facet and these role models are often celebrated,” adds Cross. “We are a caring business community. There is a compassion and social consciousness that’s so unique and special.”
“The beauty of the Gold Coast is we’re a city of opportunity and transformation. We are an ‘aware’ community. Aware that we need to challenge stereotypes, improve situations and fight bias if we want to create a gender-equal community,” says Cross. “The responsibility for change starts with us. And it’s a marathon – not a sprint. Already you can see the shift, the fearlessness, the change in mindset – it’s a beautiful thing.”
Georgia Lane started Women of Influence on the Gold Coast fifteen years ago and has witnessed a significant increase in women’s events and overall support for women.
“We find the sentiment within the Gold Coast professional community is very warm and supportive. There are many more proactive and impressive women in the Gold Coast business community today,” says Lane. “We support all women who show initiative to lead, innovate and challenge themselves. Our mantra is ‘We rise by lifting others’ regardless of their background.”
GC SUNS AFLW player Jacqui Yorston has observed change on the Gold Coast and nation-wide in the way women in sport are perceived.
“Just by looking at the numbers of people attending our AFLW games and the broadcast numbers, it’s obvious we are turning heads. This is due to the AFL men’s players embracing us through their social media, attending games and being a part of AFLW coaching staff,” says Yorston. “They are combatting the stigma that girls shouldn’t play football by doing all of those things.”
Achieving equality as a female athlete in pay, sponsorship and visibility is important for the talented inside midfielder.
“I’m a firm believer that AFLW will grow slowly as the younger talent pools grow. I am excited for when the AFLW has the ability to be full time and us as players don’t need to focus on 10 different things in season,” says Yorston. “If there are chances to give players more opportunities within club roles as a second career that is something I would love to see explored.”
HOTA CEO Criena Gehrke is committed to being inclusive in everything done at HOTA.
“We take the responsibility of being a ‘home’ very seriously. Everyone is welcome and feels it is their place – visitors, artists, staff,” says Gehrke. “The arts are uniquely placed to be leaders when it comes to inclusion. The arts are, after all, about humanity.”
“The Gold Coast arts community is almost unrecognisable compared to 10 years ago. Our artists are creating some of the most interesting and engaging work in Australia right now and we have a growing reputation for being the city to watch,” adds Gehrke. “There has been under-representation of women in the arts and cultural sector. Interestingly, there is at times a negative perception of the Gold Coast and its representation of women, however, I am proud our major cultural organisations – Gold Coast Film Festival, Bleach* Festival and HOTA – are all led by women.”
“Over half of our leadership team is women. Our Head of Programming Virginia Hyam is one of Australia’s best creatives and our new $60.5M Gallery (due to open early 2021) is headed up by the incomparable Tracy Cooper-Lavery. I am surrounded by strong, talented, ambitious and kind women.”
International Women’s Day is on March 8, 2020#IWD2020 #EachforEqual
*This feature has been produced in collaboration with City of Gold Coast