At the Australian College of Nursing (ACN), we are privileged to have so many female Fellows and Members whose unmatched leadership, dedication and courage is front and centre of protecting our communities.
On 8 March, the world will celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), with the global UN Women theme for 2021 ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’.
We believe every nurse is a leader, regardless of their official title or level of experience. With this in mind, we spoke to five incredible female nurse leaders from within our diverse membership base to discover what this theme personally means to them. Each response offers a unique insight into the amazing leadership displayed by women in our profession and beyond.
We wish all women across the world a happy International Women’s Day for Monday. Remember, individually we are powerful and together we are unstoppable!
Professor (Practice) Alison McMillan MACN
Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer
The past 12 months or so have challenged our country and the world in unprecedented ways. Time and time again, we have seen nurses stepping up and playing key roles in managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for our country. We have seen nurses working tirelessly, caring for our communities across the care spectrum, many balancing work with home schooling children.
Our nurses and midwives have shown strength and resilience during extremely challenging circumstances and it makes me very proud to be a leader in these amazing professions. Now, nurses are playing a critical role in the vaccine rollout in Australia and across the world. Our professions are uniquely placed at the forefront of the health system to support our communities as we learn to live with COVID-19.
On International Women’s Day, I reflect on our professions and how we have grown and evolved. I see our frontline involvement in the pandemic as an opportunity to continue to grow and evolve our profession across the world. I look forward to engaging with you all as my team lead the development of the first National Nursing Strategy.
Prachi Javalekar MACN
Clinical Engagement Specialist and Stage 5 ACN Emerging Nurse Leader
Dr Jennifer Weller-Newton FACN
Associate Professor and Chair – ACN Melbourne Region
This year is about choosing to challenge ourselves as we strive to achieve an equal future in a COVID-19 world. Research on women has shown that we are hesitant in applying for that promotion compared with men. We wait till we can tick all the boxes on the performance criteria, while men will put themselves forward meeting only half the criteria. So, for me, this theme is about not being afraid of stepping up and challenging oneself, being true and authentic in what you believe in, and giving it a go. If not successful in the first attempt, see this as a learning exercise or trail run. If we don’t start challenging ourselves and believing in ourselves, then it will be a long road to achieving equality.
Suzanne Volejnikova-Wenger MACN
ACN Emerging Nurse Leader Stage 5
This theme for the International Women’s Day must have been chosen with nurses in mind. As nurses, we are called to lead, with the International Council of Nurses so aptly stating for 2021 that Nurses are a Voice to Lead a Vision for Future Healthcare. COVID-19 has demonstrated that we need a new vision and a holistic approach. Nurses are the largest health care profession globally and have kept the health care system functioning, often to the detriment of their own health and wellbeing.
We will only achieve consistently positive health outcomes if nurses have a seat and a voice at every decision-making table, forum, committee, team and workplace. Nurses all the world over are ready to take the lead, innovate, educate and work towards holistic and equitable health care of the future. Let us join our voices and be heard.
Adjunct Professor Debora Picone AO FACN (DLF)
Chief Executive Officer, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
Nationally and globally, we have seen strong women leading effective COVID-19 response efforts. Equally impressive are the women at the frontline of health care who have continued to show remarkable resilience, care and compassion at a time that has challenged all of us.
At the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, we strive for equity in health care – ensuring every Australian has access to high-quality, safe health care regardless of their gender, income or where they live.
The Commission has a history of giving a voice to women’s health, and will continue to draw attention to issues where there is an opportunity to improve health outcomes. I am a proud champion of women’s rights to decision-making in all areas of their lives – especially health care. As a CEO, I have the privilege of ensuring women are involved in decision-making at senior levels, on our Board, in our Executive team and on our committees.
An equal future means a stronger future for everyone.
Want to share what the theme means to you? Tag us on Twitter (acn_tweet), Linkedin (australian-college-of-nursing) or Facebook (@acnursing) with the hashtag #IWD2021 and #ACNTribe.