FOSTERING sustainable small business in rural towns, and the benefits of supportive male family members, were among the topics enjoyed over a special lunch held in Goondiwindi to celebrate International Women’s Day.

More than 170 women (and two baby boys!) travelled from as far as Bowen in North Queensland and Warren in western New South Wales for the event on Tuesday, hosted by Goondiwindi-based fashion, homewares and furniture business Harry and Kit.

There was a powerful lineup of speakers – Buy from the Bush founder Grace Brennan (from Warren NSW), Suncorp Bank’s head of agribusiness April Cavanagh and Graziher magazine editor Victoria Carey.

The MC was television presenter Sammie O’Brien. The event was held at the Macintyre Boathouse.

Among myriad topics, speakers discussed how some women are growing and sustaining businesses in country areas and gaining traction beyond a small town’s main street or CBD.

April Cavanagh, Victoria Carey, Grace Brennan and Sammie O’Brien. IMAGE: Alisha Reading / The Farmer’s Friend

Harry and Kit founder Lillie Dahl said this idea was part of what motivated her to organise the event itself, and host it through her business.

“In Gundy, most of the main street and retail shops are run by women and I knew there would a lot of support to bring people together and collaborate with different businesses, to create some excitement for our little town,” Dahl said.

“If we create events, people will come and people will spend money and enjoy themselves in Gundy.

“The speakers were fantastic. There was a really nice message throughout the day from all of the speakers about how their husbands, partners or male figures in their lives are really helpful and supportive.

Harry and Kit founder Lillie Dahl. IMAGE: Alisha Reading / The Farmer’s Friend

“It’s amazing what Grace (Brennan, of Buy from the Bush) has done in such a short space of time,” Dahl said.

“She’s such an amazing speaker and such a great advocate for rural areas. She spoke a lot about promoting quality business and sustainability in rural areas.

“April (Cavanagh) is a huge advocate for women and getting women back into the workforce after having children, encouraging businesses to allow women to work from home when their kids are sick or having jobsharer arrangements.

“Victoria Carey spoke about the challenges of media companies traditionally having mostly men in senior roles, but how really supportive men within those companies have really helped women’s causes.

“Overall it was just a great day and we can’t wait to start organising something special again for International Women’s Day 2023.”

SLIDESHOW: Images Alisha Reading / The Farmer’s Friend

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