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Local female athletes celebrated on International Women’s Day

HerCanberra Team

Every day is the right day to highlight and work towards gender equality, but International Women’s Day (IWD) is not just an opportunity to look forward, but a time to reflect on how far women have come—especially in the sporting arena.

Local energy retailer ActewAGL has been supporting local female athletes for over 20 years. To celebrate IWD, they brought together representatives from each of the female-focused sports and sporting events they sponsor at the National Arboretum.

“Today is about celebrating women’s achievements, whether that be a young girl who has just started her first season all the way up to the most elite who compete in the Olympics,” said ActewAGL General Manager Retail Ayesha Razzaq. “It’s important to recognise and support women of all ages and stages.”

Ayesha, a keen runner, uses the analogy of equality to training for a marathon.

“You just have to put one foot in front of the other, wake up, work hard, make progress and whatever you do just don’t stop moving forward, and that’s the same for equality.

“The women here today will keep pushing until we reach the finish line of a very, very long marathon.”

While women who are at the top of their game are inspiring, so are local Indigenous women like Elsie who is a lead runner of the Indigenous Marathon Running Foundation.

Elsie and Ayesha

“I was selected for the Indigenous Marathon Project in 2014, and from little things, big things grow,” said Elsie.

“Previously I had played basketball regularly, but I wasn’t a runner. I had to go from a no-running background to running non-stop for 10 minutes, then build up from there.

“Going out for a run wasn’t a common sight on Thursday Island, but I think seeing me do it empowered other women to get out and be more active—it started a new trend. The community could see changes in me and also see how positive it was to be trying something new.”

ActewAGL currently support more than 10 female-focused and mixed sporting clubs and events—from ActewAGL Giant Opportunities Program (AFL)to Women’s Intellectual Disability Basketball—and in 2017 provided over $350,000 in sponsorship across these teams and events.

“I love the mantra ‘empowered women, empower women’ and that is what sport is about, empowering and supporting team members so everyone can win,” said Ayesha.

“This mantra is also very relevant off the sporting field and equally as relevant in the board room.”

Photography: Martin Ollman

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