Thursday, June 5, 2008

Magnetic Places Event – A Celebration of 100 Years of International Women’s Day, IWD

Penrith Womens' Health Centre had a great inaugural Magnetic Places Event – A Celebration of 100 Years of International Women’s Day, IWD.

The overall project involved a series of micro events that were hosted and supported by neighbourhood centres, NC, through out Penrith. Women gathered in their local NC and decided what kind of event/project they would like to develop to celebrate the 100th Anniversary. The results of their projects were then showcased at the big IWD festival on March 8th.

That huge culminating event, held at St. Mary’s Neighbourhood Centre, was a sea of women. Over 230 festie goers attended and between all the laughing and carrying on, there was a whole lot of singing and dancing.

Filipino women from PACSINATA and a huge crowd of Sudanese women showcased their wonderful song and dance as well as their brilliantly coloured costumes. The Penrith Senior’s Choir and then the Penrith Women’s Health Centre choir wowed everyone with their amazing voices. There was even a woman from the audience who spontaneously got up and sang one of her old favourites for the crowd…to thunderous applause. The Older Women’s International Dance group twirled and tapped and then they led the 230 spectators in several ‘chair dances’. It was great fun.

The showcasing of the individual neighbourhood centre projects was interspersed throughout the morning’s programme. There was a beautifully crafted quilt from the Neighbourhood Development Team at Erskine Park. The young women from the Werrington Youth Project created delicate etchings that depicted how they felt about womanhood. St. Clair NC was inspired to develop a colourful, fun banner of handprints that carried messages to woman everywhere. Five Cranebrook NC women bravely modelled their artistically decorated T-shirts that depicted how they felt about being a woman. And Penrith Refuge and Jessie’s Refuge also showcased a multicoloured banner with lots of individual artworks from many of their residents….including the motif, WOMEN ROCK 2008!

A few days before the celebration, the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry hosted an outdoor activity that featured the planting of 100 trees in honour of the 100 years of IWD. That event foreshadowed the culminating activity at the March 8th Celebration. In a further commemoration of the 100 years of IWD, Deputy Mayor Jackie Greenow, unveiled an art installation comprising 100 names of ordinary Penrith women who inspired others with their energy given to community and families. The installation was made up of three separate panels of reflective material that mirrored back the image of the
on looker. The effect was such, that each individual woman viewing the art work, also became a part of the art work. This lovely installation will travel around to the various NC and other public places in recognition of International Women’s Day and the inspiring women of Penrith LGA.

And of course, what would any celebration be, without feasting on tables of wonderful food. Circles of chairs were formed and the chatting and laughing over lunch, brought the Celebration of 100 Years of International Women’s Day, to a memorable close.

Many thanks to Penrith City Council for resourcing the inspired concept of Magnetic Places. It has proved to be a fantastic community development strategy." Maggie McNulty, Penrith Women’s Health Centre

Particpants in the project have said:
  • "I had the best day. I’ve never been to anything like this. It was wonderful to be able to get out of the house.”
  • “I’ve never experienced anything like this. It felt so warm & friendly, where all women were accepted without judgment That you could get up and speak or dance or sing and no-one would make fun of you.”
  • One man said “if it were blokes standing around trying to fill in a gap, they’d look at each other and scratch their head, whereas women get up and sing to each other.”
  • "I really loved singing in the choir (PWHC)!! Can we please please please keep it on???"
  • “Women rock!”
  • "I spoke to one of my women who attended yesterday – she said it was fantastic – she had only planned to pop in for a few minutes to see what it was about – and ended up staying the whole day – she had a good time socializing with women she didn’t know (meaning she felt comfortable coming on her own) and she thought the food was lovely."(Community Worker).

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