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"Hope is a boat we can all get into"

25 October 2017

From the moment Westpac opened its doors strong women have been at the core of what we do. Women such as Mary Reibey, an emancipated convict and successful business woman, she was Westpac’s first landlord when the bank opened its doors in 1817.

Now in our 200th year we’re proud to support 200 Women, a storytelling project designed to provoke thought about diversity and equality through the stories of 200 women from around the world.

New Zealand-based publishers Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday travelled the world collecting the stories for 200 Women: Who will change the way you see the world (Chronicle Books, 2017). The women’s portraits were captured by celebrated photographer Kieran E. Scott.

The project is accompanied by an interactive exhibit you can visit at Sydney Opera House Forecourt from October 25 to November 6, 2017, and podcasts to which you can listen.

All the stories in the book belong to the women themselves. Some are confronting, many uplifting, all authentic. And, while we accept that not everyone will agree with all views, we are proud to begin a conversation about a range of issues that are important to women and men alike.

Pictured here: Susan Carland. An edited extract from her story follows.

Susan Carland Ok

Susan Carland was born in Melbourne, Australia. A writer, sociologist and academic, Carland completed her PhD in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University in Melbourne in 2015. Her research and teaching focus on gender, sociology, terrorism and Islam.

Q What really matters to you?

“What matters to me most – what drives me the most – is service. But I don’t believe service has to be grand; service is not only relevant on the scale of opening an orphanage, but includes those tiny acts of everyday service, whether they be to your own children or to your neighbour. Because the ultimately happy and content life is actually the life that you give away….

“I am Muslim. I had a very good experience in the Baptist church growing up, but, when I was seventeen I started to wonder why I believed what I did; I didn’t know whether it was the truth, so I started looking into other religions. There was a lot of noise surrounding Islam – the typical things Westerners and non-Muslims say about it being sexist, outdated and barbaric – but I realised that Islam was in fact the antithesis of what was being presented to me. And what was at the heart of it made a lot of sense. In fact, it felt like a continuation of what I was raised to believe.”


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