Catholic education celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) on Friday 8 March with a range of events and activities at the national, state, diocesan and school level.

Catholic Schools NSW hosted an IWD breakfast celebrating the remarkable women in their school communities with special guest speaker, Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek MP.

Ms Plibersek especially highlighted the contribution of religious women to Australian education.

“They are the unsung nation builders – creating much of the Catholic education system that we take for granted today.

“The nuns went where there was need – they ran towards need. Australia would be a very different country without the millions and millions of hours of teaching – mostly unpaid – that nuns committed to our kids.

“Mary MacKillop, our first saint, is a personification of this effort, but she was by no means alone,” Ms Plibersek said. “I see their role in Australian education as sprinting hard out of the starting box, in the first leg of a relay, setting this nation up for success in education and values.”

Catholic Schools NSW deputy chief executive officer Danielle Cronin thanked Ms Plibersek for her moving speech.

“We were delighted to be joined by Tanya Plibersek who gave a very moving address on the contribution of religious sisters (‘the nuns’) to the social fabric of Australian society – founding schools, hospitals and and other social services well before the state stepped in.”

In Adelaide, Catholic school principals and student leaders attended an IWD breakfast hosted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Penny Wong.

Sacred Heart College, Adelaide and Loreto College, Marryatville were among 33 secondary schools who attended the event which raised funds for the UN Women Australia organisation.

National Catholic education executive director Jacinta Collins said it was important for Catholic school communities to engage in community events like International Women’s Day.

“It’s great to see our school leaders and young women who are emerging leaders participate in these celebrations highlighting both the achievements and also the challenges for women and girls in Australia and across the globe,” Jacinta said.

“We know that one in three adolescent girls from the poorest households in the world have never been to school, and it is incumbent on us as part of our mission of Catholic education to support the education of all children and young people across the world.

“It’s also terrific to see our political leaders recognising the contribution of Catholic school communities and particularly the contribution of religious to our 200 year old tradition.

“We are grateful for the ongoing support of the successive Australian government for their continued support of faith-based schools,” Jacinta said.

Catholic Schools NSW IWD Breakfast images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2024