PHOTOS: Toast to the hard-working women

IT MAY have been raining outside, but you wouldn't have known inside Grand Oaks Grand Hotel yesterday as Zonta held its International Women's Day Breakfast.

Former Gladstone MP Liz Cunningham started proceedings by cracking some timely jokes and explaining the trivia questions on the 12 tables.

With the smell of roses and the sound of laughter it would have been easy to forget the purpose of the breakfast.

That was until Association President Catherine Benson spoke to the audience of 120-odd women and three men.

With her calm and soft tone, she spoke about the importance of Zonta's almost 100 years of internationally advocating for women's rights to vote, equality in the workplace, safety at home and within society.

She said it was about celebrating the achievements of last year and looking ahead to create more positive change in Gladstone and abroad.

She wanted to celebrate how the acceptance of women in politics had grown in the last year.

As president, she was proud of the work her association had been able to achieve.

It has been able to raise about $6000 for birthing kits to be sent around the world, where women don't have access to adequate medical facilities.

"It is something we are very proud of and quite an achievement for us," she said.

"We did that through raising money with sausage sizzles and sponsorship."

Zonta were also responsible for erecting the orange silhouettes seen around Gladstone in November to raise awareness around domestic violence within the community.

It put out 78 of them to represent each woman who had died as a result of domestic violence in Australia last year as part of its Zonta Says No campaign.

And Ms Benson said it was her main focus again for 2016.

"Domestic violence is still the horrible scourge and it a really big problem with a high impact on our community," she said.

"Last year, there was a lot more awareness around it but more still needs to be done."

But it was a good year for the group and she couldn't be more proud of the organisers of her event.

The future of Zonta in Gladstone, with members of all ages, is in safe hands.

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