Published on April 8, 2020

Our first International Women’s Day breakfast brought together HVGS staff, parents, students, past students and special guests over a special breakfast beautifully prepared by our Year 11 Hospitality students.

This morning’s celebration focused on the idea that ‘an equal world is an empowered and enabled world’. We each have a role to play to address inequality and to advocate for the women and girls around the globe whose fundamental rights are encumbered because of where they are born and where they live.

Staff eating breakfast

This global inequality is evident to Catherine Minifie, our International Women’s Day guest speaker and HVGS alumni (2004). Catherine’s passion for women’s health and wellbeing led her on an incredible journey to Ethiopia to work with the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation. Here she experienced first-hand the trauma and indignity suffered by African women living with the painful childbirth-related injury, Obstetric Fistula.

“Incredibly, it is estimated that over 70% of women in Ethiopia give birth without any medical assistance.

“Many Ethiopian women have no hospital to give birth in, and there are no medicines or equipment to treat her. This can result in this terrible fistula injury that can prevent her from doing everyday tasks.

“Because she is different, she is an outcast in her community. This may mean living in pain in an isolated hut by herself and thrown scraps of food to eat. Horrifyingly, this can continue for years… not a great example of equality,” says Catherine

Speaker at lecturn


‘Little by little, a little becomes a lot’ was  Catherine’s mantra in the lead up to her visit to Ethiopia, and has been since.

“Little by little, the conversations that we have around gender and equality, are helping to create a gender-equal world; or at least one in which we are more aware of differences, says Catherine. “When we talk and celebrate days such as these, we start to make a difference; little by little.”

Deputy Principal and Head of Senior School, Fiona Devlin has also worked with the vulnerable in developing counties. She too understands that not all are created equal.

“While we are making strides in the fight for equality of genders (and all people), we still have a long way to go.

“Catherine is a stunning example the type of person we want our graduates to be – brave, strong, compassionate and true global citizens of the world that act to make a difference,” says Fiona.

Regarding the eradication of fistula in Ethiopia – the forecast is extremely positive, and it’s predicted that fistula will be eradicated by 2030, at which point, the fistula hospitals can be converted into maternity wards.

“The way in which we act, the way in which we think and the way in which we role-model, can have profound impacts on the way in which we progress,” says Catherine. “I challenge everyone to find their ‘little by little’, and do what you can, to make this world an equal playing field.”

A special thank you to our Year 10 and 11 Hospitality students and teachers who catered the breakfast and served our guests. It was delicious!

Also warm thanks to Catherine Minifie, Beavis Hire and Peter Herd Florist for supporting our breakfast. Thanks also to guests Michelle McPherson (HVGS Board member) and Mayor Councillor Loretta Baker for their company.