If you have been reading the news lately, chances are you are feeling a little bit disenfranchised. Women in leadership positions are being targeted by the media and politicians, and we are still grappling with how our society should deal with challenging issues such as domestic violence.

It’s time to change the conversation. On Sunday the 8th of March, the All About Women Festival is coming to the Sydney Opera House to provide an opportunity for the community to come together and discuss issues relevant to women.

All About Women promises an exhilarating day of ideas and stories from world-class storytellers, thinkers, adventurers and legends. This year, the festival is coinciding with International Women’s Day, and bringing together a diverse range of impressive women from all around the world, such as Elizabeth Gilbert, Anita Sarkeesian, Rosie Battie and Annabel Crabb to share stories and explore the experiences and voices of fascinating women.

For Ann Mossop, the Head of Public Programs at the Sydney Opera House, the opportunity to take on a role sharing ideas and engaging with different audiences was one she couldn’t resist. Now in its third year, All About Women is set to be bigger and better than ever.

Ann isn’t concerned by the fact that we live in an age where our attention spans seem to be ever diminishing, and information sharing is often done via text message or a 140 character tweet. Alternatively, she sees the Festival as another way to feed societies hunger for knowledge, engagement and connectivity.

“People want to be exposed to a lot of different ideas. They don’t want to just read one very complicated book and leave it at that. People want to know about a lot of things: there is a curiosity and a hunger right now.”

In Ann’s opinion, the Festival provides something special by allowing the audience to connect in some way with the person behind the idea, and being in a room with other people who are passionate about the same issues. The social element of the Festival makes the audience feel connected to something that is real, important and happening right now.

In her role, Ann has been fortunate to meet many fascinating and inspiring individuals. Ann’s highlights of this year’s program include Anita Sarkeesian, whose writings on the treatment of women in video games resulted in death threats. In an age where we are all acutely aware of vile and vicious trolling online, Anita is able to share her perspective from the middle of the controversy. Ann is also proud to feature Australian of the Year, Rosie Battie, on her tireless campaign against domestic violence. Ann hopes that Rosie’s voice will help a huge number of women suffering because of domestic violence, which is often regarded as “too hard” or simply “too sad”. Ann is also looking forward to hearing Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) talk about on how to be creative, and sharing tales of her extraordinary life with the audience.

Sharing ideas and talking about women’s issues can’t be limited to events such as All About Women; it’s something that we must do all year around. We asked Ann what she would recommend for women who want to take a stand on issues they are passionate about:

  • First, find a platform to engage with ideas. Events like All About Women provide this platform for women to share their thoughts and for everyone to talk about ideas that matter to women. Ann wants people to come and listen, watch, read the speaker’s works, talk about them and think about what it means in their daily life.
  • For some people, there will be a second step. This step recognises that you want to do something on a scale that is not just about you and your life. You can engage with an organisation that does this kind of work, start a book club to talk about ideas, volunteer, donate money – anything!

“What we assume is that the more public conversations that we have about these ideas, the richer, livelier and better kind of culture we are going to live in, and the more progress there will be for women on a range of issues.”

We can’t wait to attend All About Women and share our thoughts on social media using the hashtag #allaboutwomen. Don’t miss out! Get your tickets here.