Gunnedah’s Keli McDonald is leaving Gunnedah’s shores on Saturday to push for the rights of rural women.
Ms McDonald is one of 11 women from the National Rural Women’s Coalition (NRWC) who will attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York. Gomeroi Elder Lisa Shipley from Tamworth is also attending.
Ms McDonald is the chief executive officer of the NRWC and said the coalition felt strongly about this year’s theme of women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work and the empowerment of rural women and girls.
“We showed a keen interest … so we felt that we really needed to be there so that the voices of Australian rural women were heard,” she said.
“Though in Australia we’re quite privileged compared to other countries, there's still a long way for us to go as well, especially in concerns to security for women, economic power for women and financial power for women.
“I’m really looking forward to listening to a lot of presentations from around the world and hopefully we can bring back ideas and strategies that we can instigate in rural Australia.”
NRWC will also be making two presentations during the commission – one “advancing women through e-learning” and one on family violence.
“My keen interest is improving the lives of rural women,” Ms McDonald said.
“A lot of rural women don’t have the same opportunities as their sister in the city because of geographical isolation and the cost of travel, so through e-learning we can help bridge that gap and we know if we educate women and we make women leaders, that changes the outcomes of women’s families and they also enrich communities.
“So at the end of the day, if we strengthen rural women, we strengthen rural communities.”
The CEO said more than 5000 women from almost 170 countries were attending the event.
“We’re very excited about going.
“This is the first time that [the NRWC] has gone overseas at all.
“I think it’s just about that connection, sharing what we know and what has worked here in rural Australia and hopefully get contacts and tips about what’s working in other countries because there are issues that are happening in other countries that are becoming emerging issues in Australia.
“What we’re hoping to do is each day we’ll do a bit of round-up of what we’ve each learnt and we’ll be hosting that back through our Facebook page so anyone can learn what we’ve been doing it.”
The group travelling to New York includes NRWC president Alwyn Friedersdorff from Tasmania, chief executive officer Keli McDonald (NSW), directors Lisa Shipley (NSW), Rechelle Leahy (NSW), Leonie Noble (WA), Dorothy Coombe (Victoria), Sarah Parker (Victoria), Dr Kim Webber (NSW), Hannah Wandel (ACT), and delegates Donna Digby (NT) and Angela Powditch (NSW).