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Celebrating International Women’s Day

 Pam McConnell, Chief Executive & Founder of Five Rivers Child Care 

International Women’s Day is an important day to raise the public consciousness of gender bias, to be reminded of the need to strive for equality, and to champion women and their accomplishments. For me, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to think about the tenacious female activists in history, and women today, who have found their cause, taken action, and made a real and lasting difference to the form and function of society.  

When I reflect, I think about the women who have inspired me, like the nineteenth-century social reformers, such as Octavia Hill, and twentieth-century women including the suffragettes, who had to fight to make their voices heard and to be treated as equals.  These activists had a choice; to be passive observers of their inequitable world, or to challenge all that was unjust. In a bid to confront and put right societal wrongs, these women chose to persevere and took bold action. This speaking up and making a difference is what gave me the grit and tenacity to jump into offering therapeutic services for children over thirty years ago. Although looking after children in care can be a challenging sector, and can be seen as ‘women’s work’ and often disregarded and seen as unimportant – it shapes our society.  

I can relate to those women who took a stand against social injustice, with the hope of creating a better world. Thirty-two years ago, I knew we could do better and felt passionate that vulnerable children deserved more, so Five Rivers Child Care was born. Thirty years on, as I look at the positive impact we have had on the many lives of children and young people, I am proud to have taken action.  

Today I also think about the women that I work with, whose commitment to our children and young people has not wavered, even in the face of the multi-layered challenges thrown at them through the pandemic. Many of them have navigated challenges laced in their personal and professional lives, but still come to work as their best selves and with a shared determination to better the lives of the children and young people we look after.  

On International Women’s Day, we have a vibrant, capable, and motivated workforce who all share a commitment to transforming the lives of children and young people. I am proud that so many of the staff have stayed with me throughout this journey. 

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