International Women’s Day (IWD) 2015 is celebrated globally on the 8th of March. Admittedly I only came to know this last month, as I was invited by the AIBC (Australia India Business Council) Sydney Women in Business Chapter to hear Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw speak on the occasion of IWD. Otherwise with a diary full of deadlines and appointments, the day would have come and gone. You should know that Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is the Chairwoman and Managing Director of Biocon Limited and was named Time Magazine’s, ‘100 most influential people in the world’ and made the Forbes list of, ‘100 most powerful women globally’.

So what is IWD all about? Celebrated since the 1900’s starting in America, IWD is a day to rejoice how far women have come and an acknowledgement of how much further we need to go. There is no question amongst men and women that there is still a distance to go in both developed and developing countries for women.

The list of registered events (listed on the site) being held in Australia and India tells this future story. For one, at the time of writing this, Australia has scheduled 160 events nationally, 16 being held in Victoria, my home state. There are just 12 events to be found that are registered across the giant landscape that is India. You don’t need a crystal ball to know what work needs to be done here.

On second glance, there are key differences in content. The flavour of Victoria’s events: Women in Business, in Leadership and celebrating break throughs in ICT, Public Office and Entrepreneurship. India’s events are more about grass root issues, dealing with abuse, assault, health and safety, access to education for women and children and finding a voice through writing and the arts. Again, clear as day the stages are different in Women’s Development between these two countries.

You should also know that the theme of IWD 2015 is ‘Make it Happen’ and the colour theme is purple representing justice and dignity, two issues at the heart of women’s equality. Australia and India both have agendas and a roadmap when it comes to women’s progress, albeit vastly different (maybe there is some collaboration that could happen here). The crux is that real development starts with individuals. Wherever you are, whatever your context, set yourself a specific, realistic, achievable goal and ‘Make it Happen’ this year. This is my promise to myself, only when I am standing firm, can I lean over and pull someone else to the stage. Luckily for me, my stage is across Australia and India, so I get to make small but clear differences here, one day a big difference.  Are you going to ‘Make it Happen’?

Div Pillay strongly relates to being part of the Indian diaspora. Born and educated in South Africa through an indentured labour legacy, she proudly retains her South Indian roots in Australia where she lives. In Victoria, she raises three children and leads her practice MindTribes in cross cultural performance, supporting clients who work across Australia and India.

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