Today is the day to promote equality and do your bit to make sure that the future for girls is bright, safe and rewarding. It is International Women’s Day.

Each day we fight for equality for the people we help. And each day we get that much closer.

Today, we celebrate strong and independent women. Women like Claire*.

Today Claire is thriving, she is running from lecture to lecture as she completes her degree in Social Work, but it was not that long ago she was recovering from a suicide attempt.

Claire was forced to leave her home due to her abusive partner. And she was pregnant. Claire gave birth to a daughter called Lisa*, and was living in a new community where she knew no one.

Claire struggled with mental health issues and the isolation she felt contributed to her self-harming, and ultimately she tried to commit suicide.

With assistance, Claire was able to begin her journey towards independence. Child Protection mandated supervised visits for a period and Claire also used Mission Australia’s Parents Staying Connected program to host these visits. The Parents Staying Connected Program exists to assist families to build stronger links within the community and to increase the self-confidence and overall wellbeing of parents and children.

“Claire worked really hard to recover from her mental health issues by diligently engaging with all relevant services,” said Kellie*, Mission Australia Program Manager. “Several months down the track Claire was granted full custody of Lisa.”

“Claire was proactive in calling out for help in managing the overwhelming responsibility of being a sole parent with no other family support available to her. Together we discussed with Child Protection the need for regular respite,” said Kellie.

Claire was given information about a new service called Small Steps, which is a supported home for young parents in the Hobart area. Claire was keen to be around others like her while having access to support.

“We guided Claire through her referral into Small Steps and the move was pivotal to her enrolment at university to pursue social work,” said Kellie.

Claire is now excelling at uni and achieving fantastic grades of distinctions and high distinctions. She and Lisa are also thriving in their own house.

In a couple of months Claire will be trained as a mentor for the Parents Staying Connected Program and will guide others on their journey towards independence.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Achievements like Claire’s. This day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

We encourage everyone – men and women to join the conversation today #IWD2016 and #PledgeforParity. Find out more information on International Women’s Day.

*Names changed to protect privacy of the people we help.

If Claire’s story has raised concerns for you, remember, help is available. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14

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