International Women’s Day might have been wet but it hasn’t dampened the spirits of women who surf.
This morning at dawn in the dark, women’s surfing pioneer and founder of Let’s Go Surfing and Bondi Girls Surfrider Club Brenda Miley headed out into the waves at Bondi Beach with 50 women to welcome International Women’s Day. She was surrounded by the incredible community she has built and unified through surfing at the iconic beach and surrounding area.
Miley spoke to a packed room at North Bondi SLSC about her 27 year plight working to create gender equality in the workplace and in the lineup. Today she proudly told her inspirational story as a woman in surfing and business. She recognised the progress that had been made and the brighter future that girls and women had to look forward to through the efforts of so many, so far.
“The best way to celebrate International Women’s Day is to go surfing,” said Miley. “This morning we got together as a community and celebrated being women, we talked about the theme, ‘breaking the bias’ and donated money to support other women’s groups to help them. It’s a circular experience.
“We’re very lucky in 2022 to have amazing female role models, we have equal pay in competition and there are organisations, like Surfing NSW that are funding and supporting women’s surfing initiatives, it’s all taken seriously now. We’ve come a long way since I first started surfing in the ‘80s and through the 27 years I’ve operated Let’s Go Surfing as a business woman,” said Miley.
The surfers came from the local area and further afield. The effect and reach of Miley’s success in overcoming gender equality barriers is felt on the beach and in the room.
Elecia Bird, Founder of Gong Gurfers social club made the trip up for the morning event from Wollongong after hearing about it and she was glowing about the experience.
“Surfing is a place where you can disconnect from the world and connect with new people,” said Bird. “It’s honestly so special and heartwarming to get out in the water and meet new people. We’re all just out there loving it, cheering when we got up, and when we fell down, just loving it. Surfing has that power to empower,” she said.
Hearing from women who are creating their own new opportunities is the reason why Surfing NSW chose International Women’s Day to launch their new initiative Her Wave, Her Say.
Her Wave, Her Say aims to gather insight and encourage input about surfing in 2022 to help shape the future of the sport for women and make it more accessible right across NSW.
Program Manager Claire Ellem said, “this platform is going to create two incredible opportunities for surfing. It is giving women a voice to contribute concepts and suggestions from their perspective, on how to help continually evolve the sport we love. It also gives Surfing NSW and the NSW Government an insight into the true grassroots position of surfing for individuals, communities, clubs and surf schools.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing the responses and working towards an even brighter future by developing programs and opportunities that align to what women need and are motivated by, to help empower and inspire them to continue surfing for the rest of their lives,” said Ellem.
All women and girls of all ages and ability are encouraged to complete the survey and have their say with three surveys categorised by beginner surfers, recreational surfers and members of boardrider clubs.
Her Wave, Her Say is part of the Surfing NSW Her Wave platform supported by the NSW Government. The platform aims to increase participation by offering access, experience, progression and leadership opportunities for all women of all ages and abilities in NSW. It includes the Challenge Her Team’s Classic, Australian-first surf series with the first event in Newcastle on 28 March.
Bondi Beach on International Women’s Day, Photo by Glenn Duffus