Illawarra Women’s Day of Dance and Culture from the perspective of a young woman

Natasha Lilly Atelj-Smith – Volunteer, Healthy Cities Illawarra

Image L-R: Natasha, Volunteer & Rahima, Volunteer

I had the honour of volunteering with the organisation Healthy Cities Illawarra at the Illawarra Women’s Day of Dance and Culture this year at Wollongong Town Hall.

This was my second-year volunteering at the event that welcomes women from all walks of life, especially refugee and migrant women. I perceived it to be a success in uniting women together and strengthening our bonds through aspects of culture, celebration and dance. Solidarity and support are two core values that come to my mind when I reflect on what the women-led event encompasses and means to me. This can be attributed to the variety of health and cultural organisations present at the event, ranging from Illawarra Multicultural Services Inc to The Illawarra Women’s Health Centre who showed up and provided support for the women present at the event. The presence of health, culture and support services at The Illawarra Women’s Day of Dance and Culture enables women to organically connect to services and organisations that provide women with health information, support and personal development skills.

The event was also a celebration of women’s participation in dance and the arts. It was empowering to see a range of cultures represented and expressed through dance performances. I particularly enjoyed The Silver Lotus Tribal Belly dance. It is truly a special experience to witness so many powerful women from varying cultures and backgrounds in the same space, breaking bread together, sharing stories, culture and dance.

It is important that I continue to show up and participate as a volunteer at The Illawarra Women’s Day of Dance and Culture to foster an environment where women feel safe, respected and empowered to connect with their community and access necessary health and cultural services suited to their needs.