International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates the accomplishments of powerful women and the progress that has been made towards gender equality; however, it also draws attention to the areas in which there’s still progress to be made.
In 1902, Australian parliament gave women the right to vote and in 2010, we had our first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Changes like this are the result of decades of lobbying and challenging the status quo. Women once faced restrictions on what we could do for work, and now we’re leading corporations. The number of women on ASX 200 company boards rose from 26.2% in 2017 to 41.8% in 2021. Despite all the progress that has been made, there’s still a long way to go. For example, although women have more career opportunities than ever before and comprise about 47% of all Australian employees, they earn an average of $251.20 less than men each week. More tragically, one Australian woman a week dies at the hands of a partner or ex-partner.
IWD should spark conversations about the path towards gender parity and bring impactful women to the forefront of our minds. Here’s a look at some female entrepreneurs who are leading the way for women in the Australian business community.
Melanie Perkins (Canva)
Melanie Perkins, the founder of Canva is a model of determination and creativity. Filipino-Australian Melanie Perkins is Australia’s third richest woman and the youngest Australian billionaire. In September 2021, Canva was valued at $40 billion and had users in over 190 countries. Perkins testifies to the power of visualisation for success. She attributes a lot of her success to the fact that she whole-heartedly believed in the vision for Canva from the very start. She has stated that “You have to visualise exactly what you want to achieve before it can be turned into reality, whether that’s your own strength of character or your vision for the future.”
Ronni Kahn (OzHarvest)
Ronni Kahn is an Australian entrepreneur best known for founding the food rescue charity OzHarvest. Kahn is an activist for dismantling the food wastage problem in Australia; she operates OzHarvest with the goal of nourishing Australia. Kahn firmly believes in making the most of the present. In an interview with Business Chicks, she advised to “Be brave and courageous because all you have is now.” In December 2021, OzHarvest celebrated their 200 million meal milestone and keeping 70,000 tonnes of decent food out of landfill.
Kayla Itsines (Sweat App)
Personal trainer and entrepreneur, Kayla Itsines launched a popular fitness app, making her one of the most impactful fitness influencers in the world. Kayla’s training guide started out as an e-book in 2014; following the e-book’s success, she launched the Sweat app in 2015 – this app offers several follow-along training programs. It was the most downloaded fitness app in 2o16 and in 2017 Forbes named Kayla Itsines as the ‘world’s top fitness influencer’. Itsines’ success is proof of where passion and determination can take you and shows the importance of adapting to a constantly changing market.
These women, and many more, are living proof of the power in embracing your femininity. International Women’s Day is a celebration of how far women have come and a reminder of what more they can achieve.