Today is March 8 which is International Women’s Day. The focus is on recognising and celebrating women around the world across a wide range of achievements: philanthropic, social, cultural, economic and political, and it’s an occasion for fostering respect and appreciation toward and between women, like one mass scale Spice Girls pep rally.
Cassandra Kelly is one of the inspiring ladies repping the Australian contingent as a successful businesswoman, philanthropist and recipient of the 100 Women of Influence award in 2012. This week she spoke in Canberra about International Women’s Day and later this month will be one of the many influential speakers appearing at the Sydney Opera House’s “All About Women” festival. In honour of this day, we asked Cassandra Kelly to tell Pedestrian about the women who provide her with inspiration…
The first two that inspire me are my two grandmothers.
My father’s mother was Australian. Born into quite an uneducated, unsophisticated family that was unsafe and very unsafe for her in particular. She lived as a young girl in Bargo, NSW. She was expected to look after all the boys. She was, at times, their slave.
My mother? Well she is a very clever woman. She is a proud feminist. She is principled, compassionate, determined, and courageous. She has insisted on me fulfilling my potential.
My high school principal, Judith Wheeldon, came to my school. She blew in like a fresh breeze. She saw the need for cultural change. She wanted to teach to the gifted students not just to the average. She insisted on excellence, and she resisted mediocrity. What a courageous woman. There was the birth of extension classes. Teachers had to work harder and the students benefited from greater stimulation. She taught me that you didn’t need everything to be regulated and so she ripped up the school rules. She had three simple guiding principles: does it reflect well on you, your school or your family. If the answer was “no” to any of these, then you just shouldn’t do it.
The other women who inspire me are those that live in communities without access to some of the basic needs that we take for granted, such as adequate food and water.