I have been very fortunate to have been raised by a very strong woman.  My mother Margaret Hummelstad was born on 8 March 1938, and grew up on a farm in Temora, NSW.

A coincidence that she shares her birthday with International Women’s day? Once you hear her story – it will make perfect sense.  She lost her father Tom to tuberculosis in 1940, leaving my Granny, also named Margaret, a single mum with a two-year-old. Granny was the town midwife and registered nurse.  Growing up on a sheep farm and having to go to boarding school at 8 years old, my mum had no option but to embrace her independence albeit, very unfairly.

After Graduating from Mt Erin Boarding School at 17 years old, she followed her mother’s footsteps by moving 450 kilometres to North Sydney and trained as a nurse at the Mater Hospital.  With a naturally selfless nature, Mum thrived in this industry and ended up assisting some of the best surgeons of the day in the operating theatre.

When Mum met and married my dad Henry in 1961 she had to throw in the job she loved as there was no such thing as equal rights and the social norm was that married women belonged in the home.  My father, a surgical instrument maker, had his own factory in Haymarket, Sydney, which mum helped manage, along with the seven children that she and dad completed their family with.

My early memories of my mum were of her always giving us her love and time and sacrificing everything for our wellbeing.  Once my youngest sister was at school, 22 years later, she regained her nursing registration and returned to work as a community nurse. Having emotionally supported my wife and my sisters when they returned to work after maternity leave of up to a year, and witnessing their apprehension, I cannot begin to imagine the courage that took on mum’s part, so much had changed from 1961 to 1983.

This wonderful woman along with my amazing Grandmother, shaped the expectation I had in finding the right woman for me.  Someone that was nurturing, empathetic, intelligent and independent, above all, I wanted someone to be a part of a team.

When I met my wife Deanne, I knew instantly. We were both working in the IT industry, already more educated than myself, her full potential was not yet reached, and her true dreams still unfulfilled. We married pretty quickly and we now have three beautiful children.  It wasn’t until after the birth of our second son, at the age of 32, that she decided that she would like to study medicine. As a family we supported her decision. Deanne juggled the responsibilities of mother, wife, and student, and in 2010 graduated from University of Queensland.  I have never been so proud. She now holds 4 degrees and works tirelessly giving back to the community.

What does International Women’s day mean to me?  That’s easy – equality. It means seeing and recognising women and men as people.  Women and men, we are a team and when we work together, empowering each other, there is nothing that we cannot take on.

I find it strange that we have to wait until 8th March every year to celebrate this. To me, women and men are equally as important in today’s society and we need to remove that separation.

At Locatrix I am very proud to lead an Executive team whereby three of the eight members are women.  In a male dominated industry, I think that is a great sign of things to come.

To the young girls, young women, young ladies, mature ladies, young mothers, working mothers, studying mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers, I wish you a very happy International Women’s Day and commend you all on your joint effort in pushing through the barriers.

Why don’t we abolish the barriers together?