A contingent of around 250 sailors and officers from HMAS Kuttabul braved light rain and grey skies to complete a 4km return walk around Sydney Harbour in support of International Women’s Day 2020.
Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Jonathan Mead led the way, with a cross-section of the greater Navy Enterprise in the Sydney region participating including other Defence personnel, public servants and contractors.
Ships and establishments in the Sydney region dressed ship on the day to highlight Navy’s commitment to women's equality and support for International Women’s Day.
Following the walk to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, the crowd returned to the Garden Island Defence Precinct for a BBQ brunch and briefing on what International Women’s Day means to the wider Navy family.
Deputy Fleet Commander’s Staff Officer, Lieutenant Claire James told the gathering it was important to mark and celebrate Navy’s achievements in encouraging a diverse workforce.
“Our capability is enhanced through diversity, which leads to improved opportunities to create a fairer and more inclusive work environment to position Defence as the employer of choice for women,” she said.
“Defence promotes and embodies International Women’s Day 2020 themes by encouraging the participation of women in the workforce, ensuring that Defence secures the best possible talent available and in doing so increases diversity of opinion and experiences,” Lieutenant James said.
She noted that the Royal Australian Navy’s current participation rate for women was up to 22%, while in the last 12 months Navy had seen the first woman appointed as Warrant Officer of the Navy and celebrated 20 years of women serving in submarines.
International Women’s Day is celebrated annually in March, with this year’s theme ‘Generation Equality’ being a call to action to join forces across generations, to create a new vision where every girl and woman everywhere has equal opportunities to lead, to learn, to earn a decent living and to live lives free from violence and discrimination.
Among those impressed with this year’s turnout in Sydney was Fleet Legal Officer Lieutenant Alexis Gage.
“The turnout was beautiful and a good show of Navy’s enthusiasm to promote equality.”
“The men are also out supporting their counterparts so it’s nice to see that support from your colleagues as it builds team cohesion,” Lieutenant Gage said.
Able Seaman Electronics Technician Aaron Sims agreed that the Kuttabul walk was a chance for everyone in Navy to do something for International Women’s Day together.
“It’s great that it’s a day that includes everyone,” Able Seaman Sims said.
International Women’s Day has been taking place for well over a century, with the first International Women’s Day gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
Australia’s first International Women’s Day was held in 1928 in Sydney, with women calling for equal pay for equal work, an eight hour working day for shop girls, and paid leave.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library: https://images.navy.gov.au/S20201103.