The Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) decided to honour International Woman’s Day with a special event featuring esteemed guest speakers, music, art, food and wine.

Set to take place this Sunday at the Greek Centre (168 Lonsdale Street), the ‘GCM Inaugural Women’s Forum 2019’ aims to garner ideas to design the pathway for active participation of women in the GCM and community affairs.

Neos Kosmos spoke to the GCM’s Vice President Mrs Tammy Iliou to better understand the initiative and its goals.

According to Mrs Iliou, this project started with the intention to encourage more women to become actively involved with the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria, but down the line there were more organisations interested that approached the GCM expressing similar worries and thoughts. The GCM board therefore decided to broaden the content of the forum, discussing volunteerism and focusing on the reasons that hinder women from actively partaking in the public life as well as the difficulties that this field entails.

The Vice President expressed her concern that as time goes by, women will distance themselves from community issues and activities even more, as they won’t have examples of other women to look up to or follow.

“The first women representatives in our community were very active and worked hard towards the community’s benefit, inspiring their daughters to follow their example,” she stressed.

“This no longer applies to younger women, who need to be approached in a different way.”


Which women will this forum targeted at?
This is a very good question as we really don’t even know each other, We don’t know which women are members of the many boards our community consists of, so, we see this meeting as an opportunity to get acquainted and set the foundations for a collaborations, in order to help each other, especially those of us in key roles.

Who will the keynote speakers be and what subjects other than volunteerism and solidarity will the be touching on?
The forum will open women who have volunteered their services in many different fields, from politics to corporate and to supporting underprivileged groups around the world in an effort to convey the very positive message of the power that volunteerism holds. However, during the day the topics will become more specific and details featuring addresses from representatives of the GCM and other community organisations, focusing on how female representation in those areas can increase.
Meanwhile, government spokespersons and representatives will also present government programmes directed at women who actively partake in the public life; they will also talk about ways women can network within those sectors, with networking being a practice women have not mastered as much as their male counterparts.
The event will also include speeches from younger women, under 30 years old who are involved with the community and will be sharing their personal experiences.

Will there be a continuation to this initiative? 
This is exactly what we are trying to create. When I went to the Greek Community eight years ago, we were just two women on a board of 19 members, so there was some imbalance. Unfortunately, the reality is that on most executive and managerial boards of big firms and organisations, women are a minority.

Why do you think this is happening?
Most women are unwilling to participate because either they find it difficult or it is incompatible with their day-to-day reality. Especially the mothers. This is what we aspire to change, suggesting smart and not time-consuming ways that will enable women to partake in public life and community politics without impacting negatively on their families.

How are you planning on achieving that?
First of all by helping them comprehend the importance of volunteerism and how that can help them build or boost their career. Moreover, by promoting the spirit of solidarity and support, values upon which we can build a future where we will help each other and particularly younger women, not to mention newly arrived women from Greece.

What do you aspire to gain from this meeting?
Our goal is to have as many -and different- opinions heard on the matter, in order to arrive to some first conclusions that will, in turn, lead to the next steps we are going to take.

When: Sunday 31 March, 11am-4pm
Where: The Greek Community Centre, 168 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

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