Women Leaders recognized for vision and leadership projects in the community
The Australian virtual Centre for Leadership for Women (CLW) has selected Emma Kirkwood Founder of the Stillbirth Foundation in Australia as the Winner of its national Leadership Achievement Award for Women for 2007 and Jessica Brown, Founder and CEO of Life Changing Experiences Foundation as the Finalist for the Award.
Sponsored by NRMA Motoring and Services, the national Leadership Achievement Award for Women recognizes the achievements of women who through their own initiative create and implement projects for the benefit of and in collaboration with the community.
Emma Kirkwood is recognized for her tremendous effort in raising awareness and funds for the silent issue of Stillbirth, not likely to easily gain prominence in the community. Following the stillbirth of her daughter Olivia, in 2002, Emma Kirkwood promised her that she would establish a charity dedicated to stillbirth to raise awareness of stillbirth and to encourage research through fund raising. As she shared her story with those women who had given birth to a baby who had died, Emma felt they shared her dream and it gave them an opportunity to do something positive amidst their grief and pain.
The statistics show that 1 in every 100 babies born in Australia is stillborn or dies shortly after birth. Emma Kirkwood’s Stillbirth Foundation has a direct impact upon women. Both potential fathers and mothers involved in stillbirths must cope with the trauma associated with this. However, the impact upon the women involved is huge and deserving of direct and explicit attention as provided through Emma Kirkwood’s Foundation. Up until about 10 years ago, there was little provision for support for women (and their husbands and families) finding themselves in this position. The policy was to avoid the mother coming into contact with the dead child, and babies’ bodies were disposed of as ‘waste’ or buried en masse in unmarked graves.
There is still much work to be done, but through the Stillbirth Foundation under Emma Kirkwood's leadership, stillbirth families are able to work, in memory and in honour of their own baby, to increase public awareness of stillbirth and raise funds for research so that ultimately other families will not have to live the tragedy that is stillbirth. As the application points out, the project is providing support and comfort not only to women who have suffered the child’s death recently, but ‘up to 50 years ago!’ This project enables those involved to positively engage in grieving enabling them to go on, and to develop and grow rather than being caught in a negative cycle. The Stillbirth Foundation is the only fundraising organization in Australia dedicated to stillbirth. It operates to ultimately reduce the incidence of Stillbirth in Australia . Under the leadership of Emma the organization has quickly grown to become recognized by the medical community. The website of the Foundation is: http://www.stillbirthfoundation.org.au/
Jessica Brown as The Finalist of the Award is recognized for her vision and outstanding achievements to break the cycle of abuse and suffering in Australian teenage girls by giving them a positive role model and having them attend a twelve month personal success program called the SISTER 2 sister Project. She founded a charity called of Life Changing Experiences Foundation with the purpose of funding and implementing this program. Since its inception in 2003, the Foundation has changed the lives of almost one hundred at risk teenage girls and their communities. The Project aims ultimately to encourage leadership and capacity for mentoring in the young women who are at risk and hence become involved in the Project. The encouragement of the young women to continue at school rather than dropping out is essential for enabling the young women to develop and grow positively. Jessica has an extensive waiting list of volunteers wishing to be big sister. This Project shows great initiative on the part of Jessica Brown, along with a capacity for leadership and persuasiveness in her ability to gain funding for the Project and support from government. The involvement of a large number of volunteers shows a high level of ability for leadership.
The Four Short-listed applicants for the 2007 Award are:
- Indu Balachandran who developed for Youth Challenge Australia a Program that provides exchange and development opportunities for young people in Australia and India .
- Liz Everard for the Body Esteem Project in Western Australia for women affected by eating disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa and body image problems.
- Gainore Atkins for developing the Hobsons Bay Women’s Referral Service in Victoria for women experiencing domestic violence or other abuse situations.
- Celia Bray for the Festival of Dreams Project in Tasmania for helping young people realize their potential and move beyond obstacles posed by lack of jobs, lack of support and services.
Applications were judged by Diann Rodgers-Healey, Founder of CLW and a Panel of independent judges including Avril Henry, Director of AH Revelations; Dr Jocelynne Scutt, Barrister & Human Rights Lawyer & Executive Producer, Former Anti-Discrimination Commissioner of Tasmania; Dr Shirley Randell AM United Nations Project Implementation Specialist for the Capacity Building for Gender Mainstreaming Project in Bangladesh; Dr Lynette Dumble, Founder and Director of Global Sisterhood Network; Carmelita Steinke, Director 2VoxFM, Radio & Media Specialist; Cheryl O'Connor, CEO, Australian College of Educators.
CLW’s primary vision is to promote women and their achievements. Applications for the Award must indicate a commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment and be respectful of gender, race, religion and age.
Founded in 2000, CLW at www.leadershipforwomen.com.au runs the annual Leadership Achievement Award Program for Women selecting six women through a rigorous process of assessment involving a detailed questionnaire outlining their vision, its implementation, collaboration with others and the project’s evaluation. References and a telephone interview provide additional information for CLW’s Founder and the Panel of Judges to assess the applications and identify 4 short-listed individuals, a Finalist and a Winner.
CLW has a national membership and links to leading women's organisations boasting interviews with national and international leaders, research related to women’s leadership and resources for women’s leadership development.
The 2008 Leadership Achievement Award is being sponsored by ANZ Bank and will open on 1 September 2007.