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Celebrating Strong Women

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Every day is a day to celebrate humanity, but International Women’s Day is particularly pertinent to recognise how far we’ve come towards gender equality, and also how far we have left to go. The Australian Superfood Co celebrates all women, in all their diversities. We embrace their facets and intersections of faith, race, ethnicity, ability or disability, gender or sexual identity. We celebrate those who came before us, those who stand beside us now, and those who will come after. It’s a time to celebrate the achievements of women, whether social, political, economic or cultural.

To mark International Women’s Day, we speak to five diverse and accomplished women about their perspective on being female, changing assumptions and advice for their younger selves.

Anna Mitsios, Founder Edible Beauty

Anna Mitsios founded Edible Beauty Australia in 2014. She is passionate about creating products founded on naturopathic philosophies, using wildcrafted and exotic ingredients and encouraging her clients and people who use her skin care to nourish their skin, from the inside-out. Anna believes that Australian natives are true “superstars” when it comes to antioxidant-rich, high vibration and anti-ageing ingredients. Harnessing the supercharged nutritional profile of wildcrafted Australian extracts definitely raises the therapeutic profile of our ingestible and topical skincare products.

What is your favourite thing about being a woman?
Having the ability to multi-task and juggle many hats, from running a business to looking after my baby and enjoying time with friends. I also enjoy collaborating with and having a support network of other women – as females we do a fantastic job of fostering genuine and long-lasting relationships with other women who are always there for support

Are there any assumptions about women that you would like to change? Why?
There is definitely still a widespread assumption that as a woman with family obligations we are unable to meet the obligations associated with senior leadership positions. This is far from the truth. What matters more is quality over quantity of time spent decision making. Women are also able to provide a different insight and perspective as well as emotional intelligence which is invaluable.

What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
I would give myself (and all 10-year-old girls), the advice that I had the innate ability to truly conquer any dream or ambition, big or small and that by combining forces with other women this dream was sure to become a reality.  I wanted to become a famous innovator when I was 10 years old. I did not know how I was going to do this and lost some hope during my teenage years. What I do know now is that women coming together can achieve the “un-achievable”. A woman on her own is the epitome of strong but surrounded by other women she is a “force”.

Patricia Mamanyjun Torres – CEO Mayi Harvests 

Pat Mamanyjun Torres was born in Broome, Western Australia of Djugun, Ngumbarl/Jabirr-Jabirr, Nyul-Nyul, Bard, Yawuru and Karajarri heritage. Pat is currently a volunteer Manager for the Babagarra Aboriginal Incorporated family and children services organisation in the community centre.  Pat completed a Bachelor of Indigenous Languages and Linguistics through the Charles Darwin University. Her previous work includes Educator, Cross-Cultural Trainer, Curriculum Development Officer, Writer, award winning Illustrator, Public Servant, Manager and Co-Ordinator of local Community organizations. She recently established Mayi Harvests, an organization celebrating bush-tuckers and a cultural consultancy business called Mamanyjun Cultural Training.

What is your favourite thing about being a woman?
Being an Indigenous woman in the 21st Century means that my life is full of possibilities, opportunities and a freedom to choose what I want to do with in my life as a mother, a businesswoman and a community agent for change. I have the ability to make positive change in myself, my family and others through our knowledge systems and assert our rights as humans equal to anyone.

Are there any assumptions about women that you would like to change? Why?
As an Indigenous woman from the First Nations of Australia I am constantly working to remove barriers against us as ‘Indigenous women, as a ‘woman of colour’, and as an ‘Indigenous woman in business’. I have spent a small lifetime working for positive change to remove the negative assumptions about Indigenous people both in my community and in the wider Australian nation by constantly working hard at being a creative individual, a good parent, a good friend, a good citizen and of being active for social and economic change .

What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
I would say, ‘Believe in yourself, work hard and strive constantly towards realising your passion, believe in your dreams and work out how to get there and no matter what barriers are placed in front of you never give up!’

Jess Grace, Eastern Ranges AFLW ruck and The Australian Superfood Co ambassador

Jess Grace has been working in The Australian Superfood Co warehouse during school holidays for the past few years and the business is proud to sponsor her at The Eastern Ranges in the NAB League. Jess is a Year 12 Student doing the AFLW VCE program at Box Hill Senior Secondary. She played netball from eight years old and decided to try footy when her brother’s local club advertised for a girls’ team. She has thrived in the football environment and particularly loves the comradery and friendship bonds which she believes are stronger than in other sporting codes. She was drafted to Eastern Ranges three years ago, and now as a top age player is hoping to get drafted to a VFLW Club and then to an AFLW Club for the 2021 season.

What is your favourite thing about being a woman?
My favourite thing about being a woman is showing people that we can do anything that men can do. If we want to do something, we sometimes have to fight harder for it….and we will.

Are there any assumptions about women that you would like to change? Why?
I would like women to be seen as equal and to be given the same opportunities as men because we work just as hard as they do, so why shouldn’t we have the same opportunities.

What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
I would tell my 10-year-old self that it doesn’t matter what you look like or what you have, it is about how hard you are willing to work for what you want.

Lyndall Mitchell, Founder of Aurora Spa and ASPAR

Lyndall is an author, wellness entrepreneur, and accredited coach who thrives on seeing her clients benefit from her wellness philosophies.  She is also the founder of the Aurora Spa and ASPAR product Group, Australia’s pioneering, award-winning urban spa organisation and co-owner of The Essentialists. She currently lives in Melbourne with her husband and two beautiful daughters and is passionate about empowering all generations with the tools for reducing the stresses life brings and avoiding the potential for burnout.

What is your favourite thing about being a woman?
I think the ability to have children is something so sacred and incredibly amazing as a woman.  To be able to carry a baby, and see the gradual development over 9 months, and then to feel the movement of the baby kicking in your belly is phenomenal.  The process then continues when you bring this precious soul into the world and you can be a part of a lifetime journey to help guide, nurture and support them in their unique way.

Are there any assumptions about women that you would like to change? Why?
I guess the traditional “mum at home” style role has been one that I am really grateful to have seen evolve.  Being a woman in business I am so grateful that every day we have the opportunity to make a difference to so many peoples’ lives and I think the next generation are really liberating this traditional role even further and gaining greater freedom and balance.  In our business we have 95% female employees and the females are able to provide the level of nurturing and care that we need in our industry.

What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
Go after your passion and never give up, people may tell you “you can’t make it” and “your ideas don’t matter”.  Don’t look for approval from others, connect deeply to what you truly believe in and what you are truly passionate about and chase down that vision for your life; don’t wait for someone else to create it for you.

Hayley Blieden, Founder The Australian Superfood Co

Hayley Blieden is the Chief Dietitian and Managing Director of The Australian Superfood Co. The company was founded five years ago with the goal of increasing awareness and accessibility of Australian native produce, foods that sustained Indigenous Australians for over 70,000 years. Prior to founding TASC, Hayley worked as a nutrition journalist and nutritionist at the North Melbourne Football Club. She has BNutrDiet (Monash) and an MBA (Deakin). Throughout this time Hayley has juggled motherhood (she has two children under four) and a rapidly growing business and loves to find time for a quick jog as well as a glass of wine with family and friends (it’s all about balance).

What is your favourite thing about being a woman?
First and foremost, I am so grateful that females were chosen to grow and birth tiny humans! I also love the way women seem to be able to do/juggle it all. As the role of the woman in the family has evolved, we are now able to support and care for our families and friends, manage businesses and even find time for a quick gym session. While the mental load can at times seem overwhelming, being a mother/wife/sister/daughter/friend is both empowering and rewarding.

Are there any assumptions about women that you would like to change? Why?
That we are weak because we are emotional. Our emotion is linked to our passion, desire and tenacity. While we may cry when we are exasperated, we will deliver in times of pressure.

What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
I would say you don’t have to fit in; find what makes you tick and follow your heart. This will require courage and may cause some uneasiness but take comfort knowing you are paving your own path.

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