by Jo Behrens
While here at The Studio HQ we think that empowerment of women should be addressed every day of the year, sometimes it takes a global focus such as International Women’s Day to bring about real awareness leading to change. The 2020 International Women’s Day theme for 2020 is ‘Each for Equal.’ We sat down with Janet Saunders, Studio HQ Member and CEO of Hobart Women’s Shelter to discuss what this means to her, what’s happening here in our own community and how we can help.
Hobart Women’s Shelter supports women from all walks of life and practices the theme ‘Each for Equal’ every day supporting women who may have never thought they’d be seeking assistance and many in vulnerable situations. “It’s about ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives. It is also the belief that no one should have reduced opportunities because of the way they were born, gender, where they come from, what they believe or if they have a disability,” said Janet.
Homelessness has soared in Hobart lately, impacting the women Janet and her team support on a daily basis – from receiving around 60 unassisted requests per month 5 years ago to around 200-300 per month over the past year. Unassisted requests represent the number of calls the shelter receives but can’t support. “We have recently picked up 7 transitional properties to support women and create a better flow through and out of the crisis shelter, with expansion to an additional 10 units next year.” Said Janet. But the numbers remain high and creating change to help reduce these figures and take the pressure off support services is what’s really needed.
Creating change can start with simple things to help build a more gender-equal world. Janet recommends thinking about the way you raise your children – providing sons and daughters with equal opportunities, role modelling respectful relationships and being careful about word choices such as “suck it up princess” or “boys don’t cry” especially to sons to avoiding creating ideas that males are superior to women and can’t express their emotions. Volunteering and supporting local specialist services, and standing up and talking about how as a member of the community you will not tolerate violence against women can make a big difference. Putting gender on the agenda, especially if you have a business, can create more equal opportunities (The Studio HQ is on board!)
There is increasing imagery in and around the community and online, particularly in relation to women’s fitness, that can foster negative emotions and stereotypes. At The Studio HQ we try to promote health and wellbeing and forge more positive visibility of women in the community. “Make it clear to advertisers that women in bikinis or other ways of sexually objectifying women is out of touch, doesn’t sell and is not acceptable. Wouldn’t it be great if there were images of women who were funny, clever, capable and strong?” Janet said, “We can all work together to celebrate and encourage women in leadership positions, on Boards, in Government and workplaces and encourage women in leadership positions to share their stories.’ She said.
Ultimately creating a more robust community where women can be more supported can lead to change. Talking about these issues helps raise awareness but can lead to support services being stretched, said Janet. Funding is key, as well as learning about services available and sharing information with friends and family. Janet also recommends participating in education programs to develop your own capacity to respond to the behaviour that perpetuates violence against women.
Awareness is the first step towards action – Janet encourages people to keep talking and ensure gender equality remains a topic in the community and is on the agenda of political parties – State, Federal and in local government areas.
So what else can we do to help right now? As the service expands, Hobart Women’s Shelter needs volunteer support and additional funds from the community to keep supporting the increased number of women that are outside the current funding capacity.
You can donate via the Hobart Women’s Shelter fundraising page or get in touch to donate your time.
1) First thing you do in the morning?
Well, I try to get up and do a walk….. but not always, but I stretch every morning and make coffee!
2) How do you manage your own wellbeing?
I do Pilates at The Studio Hobart!
My dog is also a big part of my wellbeing, my children have grown and even if I have had a hard day my dog Roxy wiggles her bum so much when she sees me that her back legs lift off the floor, I just melt.
Food, wine, family and shack time at White Beach.
3) How do you stay informed on a daily basis?
News, research, colleagues, staff, clients, sector, my family.
4) Leadership ‘superpower’?
I know this sounds corny, but, I do what I say I will do, follow through and be consistent!
5) Advice to your 18-year old self?
Have protected sex!
International Women’s Day is on Sunday, March 8th 2020. Celebrate by making a donation to The Hobart Women’s Shelter to support Janet’s incredible work.
Celebrate your strength in an inclusive, supportive environment that empowers women through exercise by booking a class with us.