International Women’s Day

IWD 2021 Choose to Challenge

The IWD 2021 campaign theme was #ChooseToChallenge. 

Building on the success of ESFs inaugural IWD event in 2020, women across the emergency management sector celebrated the 2021 International Women’s Day at events in Bairnsdale, Wangaratta and Melbourne.

The need for events such as these is based on research findings that the impact of emergency response work is different for women and men. As well as celebrate, connect and ‘edutain’ women ESF hosted events will harness the opportunity IWD provides to understand and generate ideas to overcome gender-specific factors that influence mental health outcomes, including work-life juggles, aspects of resilience, and stigma and health seeking behaviours (Beyond Blue 2018, Boyle et al 2020). 

In hosting these events, ESF specifically responded to two recommendations on a study of women in the Victorian Emergency services, to:

  • bring women across the sector together to create events/forums that increase camaraderie, support, and acknowledgement
  • to explore how regionalized thankyou events could be generated for emergency service employees and volunteers

No other forum exists in the Victorian sector to bring women together in a way that gives them a collective voice and celebrates their difference and contribution.

Recordings from the events on 27 February in Bairnsdale, 12 March in Wangaratta and 16 March in Melbourne will be made and posted here so they are accessible to a broader audience.

The Age – “How women are leading a ‘remarkable’ change in emergency services”

The Melbourne #ChooseToChallange forum was recorded to allow reach to a winder audience. Please see complete videos below. Captions versions are available on our YouTube channel here

ESF IWD – Juliet Bourke Slides

Scholarships for Leadership Development

For more than 16 years, Women & Leadership Australia (WLA) has been supporting female leaders across all sectors and industries.  Through its Industry Partnership Framework, WLA works with associations and professional bodies in creating greater awareness and action around gender equity.  With the support of these organisations across the country WLA is helping to create meaningful opportunities for current and future female leaders.  For more information, please visit

In 2021 development scholarships of up to $5,000 per person are being made available for women in the police, defence, veteran and emergency services sector.  To help encourage more women to step into leadership in this sector.   WLA is offering scholarships for three leadership development courses.

The present round of funding is available to women across all states and territories and must be allocated by the end of March.

Expressions of Interest in the Scholarships are open until 19th March (unless allocated prior). 

You can apply via this link:

Further information on Women & Leadership Australia can be found at their Website


In 2020 emergency service women were celebrated on IWD on the big screen at the MCG at the women’s T20 World Cup Final.