Women of the World festival of Commonwealth proportions gives regional women a voice
For the first time, Women of the World (WOW), an international women's festival, is set to combine with the Commonwealth Games to promote and empower women.
The three-day festival in April 2018 will present more than 100 speakers and artists from all the countries of the Commonwealth.
While the main event will be held in Brisbane, the festival has already begun in far flung western Queensland.
Empowering 'the sisterhood'
Festival patron, Dame Quentin Bryce, kicked off the state's celebrations by renewing her childhood connection to the bush.
The former governor-general joined country women gathered for Channel Country Ladies Day, held near Jundah, 200 kilometres south of Longreach.
"Bringing women together is empowering; it's as important now as it was 100 years ago," Ms Bryce said.
"It's the sisterhood, the solidarity, but it's about more than that. It's about women taking their first political step."
One focus of next year's WOW Festival will be to look at the barriers all women in the Commonwealth face and work together on what can be done.
Ms Bryce, who is chairwoman of the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence, said violence was one of the gravest issues facing women and their families.
"None of us want to live in a society where women are living in fear, where women are psychologically, physically, emotionally abused," she said.
"What must it be like to live in fear every day? And I think so often, 'what about the children?'"
Ensuring regional women are heard
While many women attending the Channel Country Ladies Day are unlikely to drive 15 hours to Brisbane to be part of the WOW festival next year, organisers said it was important that their stories did travel.
The festival's executive producer Cathy Hunt has taken steps to make sure remote and regional Australian voices will be heard.
During the Ladies Day, the women attending were invited to share their stories through video, interviews, and photographs which will go on to be part of an exhibition to be held during the 2018 festival.
"These big international festivals, they go to cities, they hear the voices of women in cities [and] women in cities get a lot of opportunity to have their voices heard," Ms Hunt said.
"There are so many women and girls living in the world, in rural and remote areas.
"People in cities have no idea what is happening in those areas and also, how they can help."
Other WOW events will be held in Bundaberg and Katherine, in the Northern Territory.