Guest speaker stops the show

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

SHE cur­rently holds the po­si­tion of de­tec­tive se­nior sergeant with the Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice, is a ded­i­cated wife, mother and proud grandma of five but on Sun­day morn­ing, Tanya Swift took time out of her nev­erend­ing sched­ule to visit the Whit­sun­days to speak at Zonta’s In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day high tea.

She wowed au­di­ences with her war torn tales, send­ing goose bumps and shiv­ers down spines as she talked about fac­ing sui­cide bombers, kid­nap­pings, mis­sile and small arms attack while living in Afghanistan. Zon­tar­ian Cath Fern­bach said on be­half of the club that they were hon­oured to have Ms Swift’s pres­ence and wis­dom on the day.

“[She] demon­strates the many qual­i­ties that suc­cess­ful women aspire to; courage in­tegrity and com­pas­sion,” she said.

Ms Swift was the first woman to hold the pres­ti­gious role of chief co-or­di­na­tor for the In­ter­na­tional Po­lice Co­or­di­na­tion Board.

In this role, she was re­spon­si­ble for over­see­ing the process of Afghan Po­lice re- form. Her pres­ence in Afghanistan chal­lenged cul­tural norms for Afghani so­ci­ety where women are of­ten not en­cour­aged or val­ued in the work­place.

The In­ter­na­tional Po­lice Co­or­di­na­tion Team that Ms Swift led was re­spon­si­ble for guiding the Afghani Po­lice Ser­vice to­wards de­vel­op­ing a pro­fes­sional po­lice force that re­flected Afghani val­ues with­out im­pos­ing West­ern val­ues and sys­tems.

A cham­pion for women’s rights at ground level, Ms Swift’s work in Afghanistan put her at great per­sonal risk and for this she was awarded a brav­ery award by the Aus­tralian Coun­cil for Women and Polic­ing.

How­ever, de­spite all she had seen, she was ever-so hum­ble and cour­te­ous – spend­ing the day meet­ing with other strik­ing in­di­vid­u­als and inspiring younger women.

A strong crowd of around 120 peo­ple at­tended Wa­ter­line on Shin­g­ley for the In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day cel­e­bra­tions. This was the eleventh event held by the Zonta Club of the Whit­sun­days that hon­oured the day.

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