UN International Women’s Day 2015

The Hon Jillian Skinner MP NSW Minister for Health
The Hon Jillian Skinner MP
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Logo
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

UN International Women’s Day Seminar – CEDAW 2015 March 8 was celebrated for the 5th year in State Parliament House Sydney on Monday 9th March this year with our Parliamentary sponsorMinister for Health The Hon Jillian Skinner MP opening the Seminar  immediately after Acknowledgement to Country by Indigenous speaker Robyn Carroll from Mulla Walla Family & Community Support at Woolloomooloo.

 

Robyn Carrol
Robyn Carrol
Pam Lemoine
Pam Lemoine
Valerie Weeks
Valerie Weeks

Pamela Lemoine UNAANSW member read out the message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to UNIWDay. Valerie Weeks, Co-Convenor of UNIWD and past President of co-sponsor of the event UNAANSW spoke on the History of Women in Australia.

Robyn Carrol and Affie Adagio
Robyn Carrol and Affie Adagio

Sue Conde past President of UN Women Australia was to speak on the topic CEDAW Convention for Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Committee for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women which was set up to monitor the progress of the Convention; but unfortunately had to attend a funeral so sent her paper which I spoke to as I was speaking about my experience with attending as one of 22 community representative the UN Conference/Forum for Women Peace and Development in Copenhagen in 1980 when CEDAW was launched to the world and Australia had signed the Convention during the Frasier government.

Jillian Skinner MP -  NSW Minister for Health
Jillian Skinner MP

The same number of women government representatives had also been chosen by the Minister for Home and Women Affairs The Hon Bob Ellicott. Decades later we still  have a lot to achieve. At that time in the Scandinavian Parliaments there were many women members. We still have women in countries such as USA and Australia not being paid the same as men for the same work! And murder, rape and verbal and physical abuse is still rampant throughout the world however, the Minister advised that the Baird government would ensure a Minister for Domestic Violence as the priority if they are re-instated, that is how serious the situation is.

Robyn Carroll spoke of the history of Walla Mulla Family and Community Support which was created by a nun and is now a vital service to the Indigenous community. Robyn also shared about her struggle in life and we were all so happy for her because she has been awarded the NSW Woman Award for Sydney 2015 in the NSW WOMEN AWARDS 2015 and we presented her with a box of congratulatory chocolates along with her bunch of flowers for being a speaker.

Margaret Conway
Margaret Conway

The next speaker was Margaret Conway from GLAPDGreat Lakes Agency for Peace and Development. Margaret spoke about the Great Lakes of Africa especially women from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Congo.

Chris Hamer
Chris Hamer

Buddhist Venerable Dr. Tich Minh Tam UNAANSW Committee member brought Professor Chris Hamer UNSW who spoke on the work of Women, Peace and Sustainability. It was rewarding to have full attendance in the Waratah Room and especially that we had for the first time a large contingent of men in the audience.

The Humanist Society of NSW has also been a co-Sponsor of the UNIWDAY for 5 years especially generous with covering costs and Ian Bryce the current President was invited to say a few words.

Mina Batra AM
Mina Batra AM

Mina Batra AM member of the UNAANSW Committee and responsible for the Interfaith Portfolio dressed in a beautiful sari thanked the speakers while Valerie Weeks handed out the final bouquet of pink roses to me not only as a speaker and Convenor/MC but also because the UNIWDAY coincides with my birthday on March 8th. So it was indeed a great day for me.

Waratah Room
Waratah Room

We thank State Parliament House for letting us have the Waratah Room for the venue gratis. We had beautiful croissants and tea and coffee with a platter of fruit and gluten free cupcakes for those who have sensitive stomachs but that was not gratis and that is why we needed to charge for the event.

International Womens Day flowers for speakersMany thanks to Fred Flatow HSNSW member who sat at the door collecting entry monies which covered the expenses of the afternoon tea. We are pleased to announce that serendipitously Fred won the lucky door prize which was a huge heart shaped pink frame for family photos which could be mounted on a wall which he loved and truly deserved!

I would like to finish with mentioning 3 important points: There are two reasons I chose to convene the UNIWD for five years:

  1. To disseminate information about women’s issues
  2. I chose the venue to be State Parliament House Sydney to show that the community especially women have access to Parliament House and gratis.
  3. We have available printed copies of Valerie Weekes’ History of Women in Australia, and Sue Conde’s CEDAW History and the event has been taped and will be on YouTube soon – contact Dr. Affie Adagio <affie@affie.com.au> or 0421 101 163 or (02) 9690 1431 (h)

Australian Gypsies?

Bob-1a-314x235 This image shows the Bob (aka dING) campsite where his motorbike with sidecar and tent is how he   spends his time away from home as a “grey nomad” which is what we call people at the age of 72 who love to travel or live permanently in campsite communities. His partner is no longer able to accompany him for health reasons but that has not stopped him. All their lives they travelled often sometimes in different ways. In Australia there are swish caravans, some restored old ones some not! Also campervans and today I saw a program on TV44 where someone converted a stationwagon into a motel bedroom in the back (or so it was called) with a colourful huge quilt. The thought occurred to me, as I was born in Romania, how different is the permanent campsite life to that of the Romanian Gypsy? One program shows a well known country singer/TV sports announcer (whose name sadly escapes me now) where there is a whole community of happy campers who top it off with rock and rolling – how great! the gypsy in me is tempted at times especially that I love rock and roll but I’m a city girl so unless I get involved with a guy who likes rock and roll then I’m not likely to be ‘going bush’! Nevertheless have we got Australian Gypsies that we call more socially acceptable names like grey nomads, or happy campers, or caravan communities?!

Mortgages high levels low interest beware

Mae Sultana Look into my eyesBefore you jump into the deep end “I’ve been there, done that!” so watch out because the banks and lending bodies appear as benefactors offering huge mortgages and low interests and unless you can get FIXED RATES you will suffer their SIEGE MENTALITIES as many of us did with some facing great losses and bankruptcy. I was interviewed on the current affairs program of the day telling our stories where one minute we were given huge mortgages for 6% interest and one blink of the eye and they were up to 23% with the banks not even returning our calls! We ordinary people were not the only ones, even the millionaires went broke too! So when I see those advertisements enticing you to get the huge mortgage at low interests I think “come in suckers!” and “BE CAREFUL!” they’ve done it twice in my lifetime already and this will be the third I’m sure!

 

The image is my Tabby cat Mae who’s got the perfect look “watch out!”

13th Stepping Protection

setting foot on the ceiling 3, photo by Thiago Tavares, Maringa, Brazil, semcriatividade.com/tchago, sex addiction
setting foot on the ceiling 3, photo by Thiago Tavares, Maringa, Brazil, semcriatividade.com/tchago, sex addiction

A discussion has evolved from my post on the practice of 13th Stepping – having sex with a person who is more vulnerable than yourself. There have been comments denigrating the 12 Step program, partly blaming 13th stepping. Having worked for over 20 years in the recovery field I can only say that if someone criticises the 12 Step program and fellowship then they are ignorant about how beneficial and lifesaving it is for those who suffer from addiction. There are other programs such as cognitive behavioural therapies which may work for those who commit fully to them but nevertheless larger numbers have benefited from the 12 Step program. Now I will deal with this particular request:

If anyone has any ideas about how to curb 13th stepping at meetings, i would love to hear it. I feel so protective of the other young women at meetings, and I want to do whatever is within my power to encourage self respect, dignity, and focus on recovery. It took a lot of pain for me to see how abusive I was with 13th stepping people, and how abused I let myself be. I would like to do what i can to help these girls make better choices than I have. Thank you, Lauren K

Single people in early recovery are discouraged from entering into relationships because the idea of successful recovery is when you first develop a healthy relationship with self. That’s a life skill which needs honing before success can be achieved in a relationship with another person. However, in the fellowship as in any other part of life such as church groups, cultural associations or sporting clubs etc, lust and love tempt us into relationships which are perhaps too soon, therefore temporary and unsuccessful. Finding partners in the fellowship can be an end result that is fulfilling because it is within a mutual program and the communication is understood. However, there are in the fellowship a minority of people who are not ethical just as there are a larger number of people with integrity and who are good role models for recovery. The strategy for those who may be inclined to be 13th Stepped is to remember that in recovery I am not responsible for the disease but I am responsible for my recovery and therefore report any love interest to your sponsor and be guided. Look on it as being for a short time and when you are strong in your recovery you can choose the right partner more wisely. If you are like Lauren K and notice 13th Stepping in meetings, (1) one way of dealing with your fears is to share, when your turn comes, what you see and feel about the 13th Stepping going on, without mentioning names. (2) Another way is to ask that the topic at your meeting be “how to stop 13th Stepping” and this will mean that when people share on the topic the message will perhaps hit home to those who are the perpetrators. (3) Another way is to ask for a guest speaker who will speak on the subject at the beginning of the meeting. (4) If all else fails, or as well as, you can call for a group conscience meeting especially to ask for that problem to be dealt with, or attend the next group conscience meeting and put the subject on the agenda for discussion. (5) It will be more effective if you set up a group (2-3 members) who will act on this issue. Maybe you will find out another way of doing it but at least you have some suggestions to begin with.

Visitor weddings

Married, photo by Crystal Leigh Shearin, Rocky Mount, United StatesI promised to let you know why some visitors to Australia come here to get married because it is not possible to marry in their own country. I also wrote that as I was not exactly sure why this was the case I would wait for the next such wedding and then after more research I would let you know the facts. The reason is quite simple really. In a country where there is a main religion, the partner who is not of that religion needs to change to the religion of the land for a marriage to take place in the church. Here in our country inter-religious marriages have become easier in some cases. Back to the case of marriages in countries outside Australia – when a couple wished to have a civil marriage in such a country, red tape can take so long that it becomes thwarting. So couples visit other countries, bring back the formal documentation which is then recognised and registered in their own country.

I conducted a wedding for a couple from overseas where in their country it was
difficult to have a wedding due to his different religion
so once they lodged the notice of intended marriage in the due time
they flew over and I conducted their marriage in the Royal Botanic Gardens
with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in the background
it was a delight and the photographer took some impressive pictures
he then took them to other attractive scenic spots where
more pictures were taken, finishing off in their hotel lobby
the couple then flew off to Fiji for their honeymoon…
a marriage to remember

Married, photo by Crystal Leigh Shearin, Rocky Mount, United States

13th Step Consequences

Addicted 4, photo by Nicole Dee, Landing, OntarioI have written about the dangers of getting sexually involved with someone who is early in recovery from addiction and/or any other vulnerable state. This is commonly known in the 12 Step fellowship as 13th Step consequences and needs to be treated as a serious warning, even though the term causes nervous laughter.? Steve’s comment is an example of such a traumatic outcome and here is my response:

Steve, I was sorry to read that you have had such a traumatic experience and that you are now disabled with a muscle disease too. Not all AA members are as thoughtless as the one who hurt you and your partner. There are many AA members who are careful not to get involved in that way and who make good supportive friends for each other and for new members. Perhaps you could both try another meeting if you want the benefit of the program. Then again no one says you must use AA. There is a group known as SMART Recovery and it does not encourage friendships? between its members, as there is no buddy system. It is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and does not use a God perspective.

Difference between addiction or not

Perk Me Up, photo by Gomi Lao, Baguio City, Benguet, PhilippinesI have often been asked the question put to me by Uli Bartels, the photographer for the coffee addiction post, that is, how does one know the difference between addiction or not? The answer is quite simple – when the behaviour is repeated until it becomes problematic and often life-threatening then it is addiction. In other words when a person cannot stop themselves from repeating destructive behaviour then they have become addicted. So it is far better to reduce the behaviour before it becomes harmful and then it is necessary to abstain from usage all together.

Robert told me that he knew he was not addicted
because he could go without drinking for months
I asked him when he does drink what happens and
he pulled a face as he told me that he got high
but although he drank too much
he was a ‘happy drunk’ or so he was told
because he couldn’t always remember things
then the penny dropped as he realised
that he was a problem drinker
that’s the difference between addiction or not!

Perk Me Up, photo by Gomi Lao, Baguio City, Philippines

Happiness

Sweet, photo by jesusroxs, United StatesThere is no use blaming others for our misery because happiness is in our own power. In other words whether we are happy or not depends entirely on our own decisions and perceptions. Other people can try to make us happy or unhappy but we allow them to impact us in whichever way. So make a plan to bring happiness into your life and live fully and blissfully.

Ellen is in her 80s and was an exceptionally
beautiful and talented women in her youth
but most of her life she has been miserable
when asked why this is so she replies that
happiness has eluded her and
misfortune has left its mark on her!
she cannot see that it has been this belief
that has caused her to miss any opportunities
at having happiness and fulfillment and
to this day still blames everyone and everything
for missing out on life’s joys
what a waste of talent and beauty?!

Sweet, photo by jesusroxs, United States

Coffee addiction

cup, photo by Uli Bartels, Berlin Germany, www.ulrichbartels.deEveryone who loves coffee enjoys the taste and the lift it gives, as well as the social interaction that goes with having coffee with people – friends or business colleagues. It is considered safer than alcohol or other excesses but needless to say coffee addiction is dangerous. How many people do you know who have reached the stage of needing to reduce the number of coffees they have in a day because of doctor’s orders? As I see it if you like coffee, better to drink a safe number of coffees per day than to have to do without it completely, should it get out of hand.

I prefer a cup of tea to a cup of coffee
yet when we are out my first reaction is
to ask if anyone wants to have a coffee?
which surprises me immensely
I realise it is a socialisation outcome
just the thought of going out and
having a cup of coffee over a chat
appeals to me whereas
a cup of tea is something I
have at home or with breakfast out

cup, photo by Uli Bartels, Berlin Germany

Self love or codependence

My eyes, photo by Lucretious, Thessaloniki, GreeceAn important part of being in recovery from codependence is having a healthy relationship with self. In other words, the choice is self love or codependence. A comment from Maranda on my post about having a relationship with self shows how difficult it is for some to conceptualise this – “Nice theory How can you start loving yourself in real life, I wonder?” Some people can only feel lovable when someone else loves them and then they see themselves through someone else’s eyes. No one can make you feel in a certain way unless you allow yourself to feel that way to begin with. So the ability to feel one way or another comes from within. The same way that you can feel terrible about your self, you can feel confident about yourself and, therefore, feel lovable – that’s self love. To hand over your power about how you feel is codependence or being neurotic.

Loretta came home with her small children and
found his clothes gone!
she managed to get the toddlers bathed, fed and to sleep
then she collapsed as the reality hit her
what happened? how come she didn’t know?
how did he expect them to survive without him?
she got through the night without any sleep
then the next day she was in ‘shell shock’
but the next night, too exhausted to stay awake
she drifted off believing that without him she
would be forever alone raising their children
it never occurred to her that she was lovable
at 25 she thought she would live alone forever!
fortunately, she remembered that she is lovable
and when faced with self love or codependence
she chose to focus on the relationship with self
he came back but in time she just sent him away
because she discovered that she deserved better