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Red Cross celebrates International Women's Day

An amazing array of Red Cross women from all walks of life joined today to celebrate International Women's Day

Friday March 6, 2015

Paying tribute to the extraordinary women of Red Cross and the women they support

Women came together today to celebrate International Women's Day in in support of Red Cross at events in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.   'Make It Happen' is our theme for 2015 International Women's Day, encouraging positive and effective action for advancing and recognising women.    

Members of the Tiffany Circle, a growing international community of women leaders and philanthropists, our corporate partners, supporters from trusts and foundations, staff, members and volunteers celebrated the achievements of the amazing women who 'make it happen' as part of Red Cross societies and programs around the world.  

Every day at Red Cross we recognise the vast inequalities women still face in Australia and overseas, and are working to help women achieve healthier, safer, and more sustainable lives.  Our programs improve access to education, clean water and sanitation and address gender-based violence, food security and public health issues.  

Women have been at the forefront of Australian Red Cross since the first branch was founded by a remarkable woman, Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, in the days after the outbreak of World War One.  By World War Two more than 450,000 Australians were members of Australian Red Cross, and 95 per cent of members were women, making Red Cross arguably the largest women's organisation in Australian history. 

One amazing woman whose work we celebrated today was Red Cross nurse and aid worker Barb McMaster, who recently returned from Sierra Leone where she worked at the Red Cross Ebola Treatment Centre.  

A veteran aid worker, Barb shared her story of the extreme conditions she worked under in Sierra Leone, and the incredible lengths the staff were pushed to in order to avoid Ebola transmission.   

"As new people arrived, everything had to be burnt," said Barb, explaining that all clothes and even the medical paper work that people arrived with at the Ebola treatment centre had to be destroyed, along with everything that was used inside the area where confirmed cases of Ebola were treated.  

Barb's moving account also touched on the anguish of mothers being separated from their children, the process involved to give victims a safe and dignified burial, and the work of Red Cross volunteers to trace extended family members when a child is orphaned.   

On International Women's Day we pay tribute to the extraordinary work that women undertake for Red Cross, and to the women we help to make lasting, positive changes in their lives.  Together, we can truly make a difference.    

Tiffany Circle is a global giving circle of engaging, dynamic women from all backgrounds who come together to forge friendships and further the work of Red Cross.  Find out more.

The Tiffany Circle's name is inspired by Louis Comfort Tiffany's beautiful stained-glass windows, commissioned by American Red Cross in 1917, which depict the virtues of the Red Cross Movement, including hope, charity and fortitude.