Eight Things You Need To Know About Half The Sky

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Eight Things You Need To Know About Half The Sky


This rad event is for a good cause… women’s rights.

Did you know that violence in women between the ages of 15 and 44 accounts for more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic injuries and war put together? This is an official stat from the World Health Organisation and is frightening as hell!

Luckily, organisations exist who strive to lower this horrifying statistic. One such beacon of hope is the International Women’s Development Agency. Run and operated by some friendly, hip gals whose office is found four floors up from the ground of commercially-operated Bourke Street, they’re a not-for-profit NGO making vast differences in the lives of women in the Asia-Pacific region.

Tuesday March 8 marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day – a day established to emphasize the achievements of women and raise awareness about the ongoing challenges they face every day. That evening, IWDA will host Half The Sky, a benefit gig that is looking pretty spesh with the lineup of celeb musicians and entertainers on board. I spoke to Amy Huon, the events coordinator at IWDA about the gig, their organisation and women.

1. International Women’s Day is a national holiday in some countries.

It’s true! In some of the most oppressed places in the world, like China, Armenia, Russia and Vietnam, husbands honour their wives and sons their mothers. That’s great, but it’s not enough. Women are still being raped as a means of gaining power, beaten and seen as lower than their male counterparts in most developing countries. They also get paid less – but we know all that.

2. IWDA works with abused women in Cambodia, which is pretty hardcore – and admirable.

“In Cambodia, for the past 25 years we have partnered with a local women’s NGO, Banteay Srei. During this time we have supported a wide range of programs including violence against women, food security and for the past three years we have supported the only Safe House in Battambang Province (roughly the size of Victoria).”

3. But that’s only one of four areas that IWDA work across.

“That’s providing a safe house for women and their families that have experienced violence. There are four main areas that we work across: Women’s economic empowerment, women’s safety and security, sustainable livelihoods and natural resource management and women’s civil and political participation. IWDA’s work is spread across eight countries – Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, PNG, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

4. All of the artists performing at Half The Sky (except one) are women.

“We’ve got Clare Bowditch, Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier, Stiff Gins and Lucie Thorne, who are both coming down from NSW to play the gig. We’ve also got Sally Dastey from Tiddas, The Town Bikes and The Red Brigade, who are an amazing women’s marching brass band.”

5. That doesn’t mean it’s an angry feminist gig.

Despite the mainly female lineup, Amy’s not against men at all – she wants them to be more involved in the future. She’s not about to burn her bra and stop shaving her legs, either. “In the future it would be great to have male performers as well,” she says. “I think it’s about striking that balance. We’ve got this new campaign going at the moment about reclaiming the F word and it’s about feminism and what that actually means and breaking down some of those stereotypes.”

To a lot of people, ‘feminism’ brings to mind images of hairy-pitted lesbians holding up their breasts whilst bathing in the warm glow of a fire fuelled by their bras. This version of feminism has to do with bloody serious issues. “These inequities faced by women, particularly in developing countries, are still major issues,” Amy explains. “Things like the prevalence of violence against women, lack of a political voice and high incidences of death during childbirth are unacceptable but when you hear the word ‘feminism’, it’s really seen as this Anglo term, so I guess we’re trying to raise awareness about the continued relevance of feminism.

6. All the proceeds go to a good cause.

A really good cause! “They all go to IWDA programs.” That’s right, all of them.

7. And if you’re one of those people who worries about where your money goes with charity, IWDA is definitely a good option.

“I feel like IWDA’s a great organisation to donate to because it’s small and women-focused and I feel with a lot of bigger NGOs it can be harder to see where your money is going.”

8. They’re doing amazing stuff, but you can help too.

“I think on a local level it’s always important to be speaking out against violence against women. I think there are already some wonderful campaigns here like, the White Ribbon Campaign. I think that’s been really effective. And any kinds of inequities that people see, just being able to speak out about them. But I think in terms of assisting women in developing countries, it would be really great to support IWDA or other organisations that do work specifically with women across these areas.

Another thing you can do to help is to attend the benefit gig on Tuesday March 8. Half The Sky is not just about fantastic music from some talented females. The Town Bikes are an amusing cabaret performance duo and there will also be a silent auction… and alcohol.

It’s a school night, but it ends at 10.30pm so come down, have fun and support a great cause. Tickets are $30 to $80 (depending on how swanky a night you want to have) and the doors of the Thornbury Theatre (859 High Street, Thornbury) will open at 7pm.

You can get tickets atwww.thethornburytheatre.com or www.oztix.com.au

www.iwda.org.au is where you can find more info on the IWDA and all their amazing work.


Below is a video in which the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon addresses the world about International Women’s Day.