Our "legendary local ladies" inspire ahead of International Women's Day

Local women have shared their stories of the journey towards breaking the bias as Forbes celebrates International Women's Day

Forbes Shire Council hosted an evening of cocktails, canapes and entertainment at Forbes Town Hall on Saturday night - and five incredible local women shared some of their stories and their inspiration.

The theme of International Women's Day 2022 is 'break the bias' and through the stories and experiences shared Saturday, we heard how far we've come, and where we can continue to grow.

CatholicCare Wilcannia Forbes CEO Anne-Marie Mioche reflected on the incredible gains made in her lifetime, sharing from her own family's story.

But also laid out the challenge to continue to engineer change, and to pass that baton to our daughters, granddaughters and those generations to come.

Anne-Marie said women have so many more opportunities for education, employment - even employment in unconventional fields. Yet, one woman a week still dies in Australia at the hands of her partner, we still need a massive investment in emergency accommodation.

She has seen domestic violence become a crime, she has seen the establishment of women's refuges to give women fleeing domestic violence a place to go. Yet change is "not the work of decades but much longer" and we all have a part to play.

"We need to change our own biases against ourselves, and not accept the little things," Anne-Marie said.

"We need to stop being the critic when we look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning, we need to stop the small gaslighting gestures or comments, inappropriate joke or just ignoring a behaviour because it might cause a fight.

"Very importantly I think we need to mentor and support women and girls in our lives: we need to be a feminist, but we also need to be respectful and kind.

"I don't think men and women are the same, I don't think men and women should be the same, I believe in equal value."

Kim Wright, who works with Aruma, spoke about her passion for inclusion in our community, paying respect to the late Tara Hawken and the obstacles she overcame.

"Tara spread love and happiness wherever she went, and touched many lives," Kim reflected.

Sam Leonard, owner of Forbes Smash, hopes there's a day when she won't have to explain that she's both the owner of the business and a qualified tradie.

Sam, currently a finalist in the Australasian Paint and Panel Women in Collision Awards,

"I'm grateful for the support I have received from all different people - young, old, men and women - because supporting others is such an important part of breaking the bias," she said.

Eighteen-year-old Madi Hopkins reflected on the challenges of growing up in Tottenham, but also on the strong women including her mum who have supported and encouraged her.

Madi came in to Forbes as a boarder at Red Bend Catholic College when she was just 11 years old; now her work as a junior at Life Pharmacy has led to a traineeship as a dispensary technician.

While highlighting women doing amazing things through all sectors of our community, Madi hopes to continue to see a rise in women supporting one another.

If she could offer one piece of advice to younger girls it would be, "Don't try to be someone you're not: being your true, honest self gets you further in life".

Alex Bayley gave us some insight into life on their busy dairy farm: milking 300 to 340 cows, twice a day, every day of the year - and spoke about the challenges of navigating farming as she welcomed four children to her family.

"To break the bias I believe education is the key: we need to educate women and girls in the capacities of effective and innovative leadership," she said.

"If there were qualities I could instill in all young girls it would be confidence, kindness and empowerment: confidence to do what you want, be what you want to be; kindness to build each other up and empowerment to reach our goals."