Celebrating International Women’s Day – five inspirational Queensland women you need to know
You know that saying how behind every great woman is a group of other kick-ass women? Well, that quote might not be exact but it’s pretty bloody true – a whole bunch of positive change in the world is currently happening because women are standing up, speaking out and making their voices heard. While there’s still a lot of work to be done in the fight for equality, it’s important to acknowledge the women all around us doing inspiring work across all facets of life. To celebrate International Women’s Day on Friday March 8, we’ve rounded up five phenomenal Queensland gals who are totally killing it in their respective fields. Who run the world?
We’re a fan of anyone who advocates hard for carbs, so Ursula Watts tops our list of inspiration women in the Queensland food scene. Great taste aside, Ursula is a hustler to the core – herself and her partner Ben are the brains behind Gold Coast favourites Bam Bam Bakehouse, The Paddock Bakery (which they have since sold to a family member), Cubby Bakehouse and Neptune Kiosk. Since Paddock’s opening in 2014, Ursula has continued to push the envelope and offer hungry patrons an unparalleled food experience across all of her venues. A flair for innovation and design, appetite for change and pure dedication to both food and business have cemented her status as a fierce female well worth looking up to.
When it comes to the world of rap and hip-hop, women are still notoriously underrepresented – but Jesswar is pioneering a shift in power. The Brisbane-based Fijian artist has made a huge splash in the scene, using her raw talent, fierce flow and unparalleled stage presence to deliver piping-hot bars with a message. Rather than seeing her gender as a liability in the industry, Jesswar has hustled hard and earned her spot as one to watch in Australia’s music scene without subscribing to any labels. She is wildly talented, unapologetically herself and leading by example in the demand for inclusivity – she’s taken a seat at the table and is subverting the system.
Anyone who’s ever been actively involved in the arts knows that it’s a bloody hard slog. Sarah Hazlehurst is one woman who has dedicated her life to the industry across multiple facets, largely through her gallery space The Culprit Club. Since opening in 2016, Sarah has independently shown and supported more than 200 artists across solo and group exhibitions. Her passion extends even further, with her artist residency program offering not only a space to work but also the boundless resources that come with her industry experience – which she shares with generosity and enthusiasm. The hard work is paying off, with Sarah currently sitting as a finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
Image: Sarah Hazlehurst
When Bri Lee’s incredible memoir Eggshell Skull dropped in 2018, people around the country were given a real-world example of just how much of a nightmare the legal system can be – particularly when navigating the harrowing waters of sex crimes. Bri’s bravery and emotional intelligence have seen her become a champion for change in the world of law, taking on what seems like an impossible task with unwavering determination. The celebrated author, writer, speaker and editor has taken her activism beyond the pages of her book, continuing her quest to make the law more accessible to women, by engaging directly (and persistently) with the Queensland Police in an effort to make tangible changes to the system.
Up until last year, Queensland’s abortion laws were some of the most draconian in the country – and by draconian, we mean abortion was literally in the criminal code. Thankfully, this absurd legislation was overturned and women in our state can now safely and legally access abortion – with huge thanks going to Daile Kelleher. Daile is the manager of Children by Choice, a non-profit service that provides counselling and support for unplanned pregnancies across all options – from abortion to adoption and parenting. Daile’s tireless campaigning, advocacy and dedication to educating the public was instrumental in getting this reform over the line – and we thank her wholeheartedly.
Happy International Women’s Day to everyone, no matter how you identify – may we forever support, encourage and empower one another.