Marion was her name.

We went through high school together.

She didn’t have many friends – in fact, I don’t recall if she had any friends at all.

What I do remember is how Marion looked. Matted hair, dirty clothes, her school bag was torn.

And she smelled – really badly – the unmistakeable sour scent of unwashed skin and unwashed clothes.

I’m pretty sure I have blocked a lot out about Marion and what happened to her. But I am sure she was bullied.

Name calling. Pushing. People making a point of not sitting next to her in class. Ignoring her when she spoke. All of that, and possibly more, went on.

Our school was in a mixed socio-economic area, with a nod towards the lower end of the wealth scale.

My family was considered wealthy simply because Mum and Dad owned a small business, and we owned our own house (that is, they had a mortgage).

It’s ironic that I was also bullied a little too during those years, for opposite reasons.

I had nice clothes, and Mum taught me how to dress. I was considered one of the popular girls, and the fact we had a little bit of money in comparison to most of the other families in the town meant I got called names too – “rich b*%ch” is one name I remember well.

But no matter how bad the names got and how miserable I was during the school day, I knew I could escape it all, simply by walking through the door of my home.

At home I was encouraged.

At home I was given opportunities.

At home I was taught strong values.

At home I was loved.

Where are you now Marion?

I’ve been haunted by thoughts of Marion ever since I left school.

What happened to her? Is she ok? Did she escape the poverty cycle? Is she scarred through her experience at school?

Most importantly, with the benefit of maturity and growing emotional intelligence, I have wondered countless times over the years – what was going on in her life back then?  What did Marion go home to every night? Who was there to support her, encourage her?

Was there anyone there to love her?

Closing the Gender Gap by Helping Girls Like Marion

The World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report tells us gender parity is over 200 years away.

Empowerment is key for progress, and this starts with helping our young girls and women – girls like Marion – gain economic security through better work and career opportunities.

UN Women studies show:

  • When more women work, economies grow.
  • An increase in female labour force participation—or a reduction in the gap between women’s and men’s labour force participation—results in faster economic growth
  • Evidence from a range of countries shows that increasing the share of household income controlled by women, either through their own earnings or cash transfers, changes spending in ways that benefit children

I’m really happy to share a positive story of empowerment in action.

Making an Impact

Impact100 Sydney is a group of Sydney-siders who love the city, and want to make it a more equitable place for all. They recognised that by pooling their funds and effort, they could have a greater impact in our community.

The Impact100 model is simple. 100 donations of $1000 are combined to raise $100,000 annually, and granted to an organisation that can have an immediate, real and measurable impact.

Each year Impact100 members decide where Sydney has the greatest need and donors vote to determine which project receives the $100,000 grant.

Winner of the 2017 Impact100 Grant, Leichardt Women’s Community Health Centre is empowering disadvantaged 16 and 17-year-old girls in Sydney through a Career Mentoring Program in partnership with The Girls’ Refuge and Lillians.

Many of the girls have experienced serious trauma, and are unable to live at home due to domestic violence, sexual abuse, parental neglect or family breakdown.

The program, known as ‘Empowering Girls to Grow’ (EGG) allows 40 girls over two years to be matched with successful women from the business community and undertake a structured 10-step course that provides career guidance and on-the-job work experience.

Join Us and Hear The Story So Far

In support and celebration of International Women’s Day 2018 and the theme #PressforProgress, I’m proud to say SmartWomen Connect is partnering with Impact100 and JBWere to host a special Smart Breakfast.

Our members and guests will come together to connect and hear from Roxanne McMurray, Manager of Leichardt Women’s Community Health Centre who will share the progress being made by the girls and what is next for the girls and the program.

It’s easy to feel hopeless, as though you are only one person and you can’t make a difference.

I guarantee that you will leave this Smart Breakfast feeling inspired, motivated and full of hope that each of us CAN make a difference and that we MUST continue to #PressforProgress

PS You can register by clicking here.



You’re Invited To Our Next Smart Breakfast

When: Tuesday 6 March – 07.30am – 09.00am
Where: JBWere, Governor Phillip Tower, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney NSW 2000

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 and the theme of #PressforProgress, SmartWomen Connect is pleased to present a special Smart Breakfast in partnership with Impact100 and JBWere.

Read more and register here

Join Us For Smart Networking

When: Tuesday 13 March 5.15 – 7.30pm
Where: Jirsch Sutherland, Level 27, 259 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Our popular Smart Networking evenings are a great opportunity for professional women to not only network and make valuable connections, but to relax and unwind in a beautiful venue surrounded by like-minded people.

Read more and register here