In the vibrant heart of UNSW, a gathering of over 80 esteemed guests convened at The Lounge to celebrate an evening dedicated to honoring the remarkable women within the UNSW sporting community. This event, which unfolded against the backdrop of recent International Women's Day festivities and the grand opening of the Moya Dodd grandstand, served as a poignant testament to UNSW's unwavering commitment to fostering gender equality in sports. The occasion was not merely a celebration of achievements but a rallying cry for continued progress and inclusivity within the realm of sports.

The proceedings commenced with Kate Allman, a respected figure within UNSW circles and in the Australian sport journalist landscape, assuming the role of MC for the evening. Allman reflected on the groundbreaking strides made through the Active Women Strategy, a pioneering initiative introduced in 2020. This strategy, the first of its kind among Australian universities, aimed to dismantle barriers and champion gender equality in sports, laying the foundation for transformative change within the UNSW sporting landscape. Professor Sarah Maddison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Student Experience), echoed Kate's sentiments, acknowledging the progress achieved while underscoring the enduring challenges on the path towards achieving a balanced, 50/50 representation in sports. Despite the strides made, Professor Maddison emphasized the imperative of collective action and sustained commitment to drive tangible change in the pursuit of gender parity.

Professor Sarah Maddison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Student Experience), speaking on our Active Women Strategy.

Five prestigious awards were presented throughout the night, each honoring individuals and clubs that have demonstrated outstanding commitment and achievements in promoting women's participation in sports. 
The first accolade, the SHE CAN award, was presented to Mondira Paul, a beacon of inclusivity and empowerment within the UNSW sporting community. Mondira's unwavering commitment to fostering a welcoming and supportive environment, evidenced through her active participation in Learn to Gym sessions and mentorship role, epitomized the core values of the She Can Program. Her inclusive leadership and genuine passion for empowering others served as a testament to the transformative power of sports in bridging divides and fostering unity.

Mondira Paul accepting the SHE CAN award from Professor Sarah Maddison.

Next, the spotlight turned to Taylor Bennett, recipient of the First Year Star award, whose remarkable contributions to Taekwondo and Cheer & Dance have inspired fellow female athletes and showcased excellence on the sporting stage. As a red-belt in Taekwondo, Taylor's triumphs on the mat, including gold and silver medals, served as a source of inspiration for fellow female athletes.

Taylor Bennett - First Year Star award

The Outstanding Club award saw joint winners in UNSW Football Club (UNSWFC) and UNSW Rowing Club, two pillars of excellence within the UNSW sporting ecosystem. UNSWFC's pioneering Women's Empowerment Strategy, launched in 2023, had ushered in a new era of inclusivity and opportunity for women in sports. Through initiatives such as coaching pathways programs, educational support initiatives, and partnerships with Indigenous football foundations, UNSWFC had emerged as a trailblazer in advancing female sporting success. Similarly, the UNSW Rowing Club, under the stewardship of Women's coach Chris Byrnes, had achieved unprecedented success, with the female squad clinching historic victories and setting new benchmarks for excellence

UNSW Rowing & UNSWFC sharing the Outstanding Club award respects this year.

Following a brief intermission, attendees were treated to a thought-provoking Q&A session with Lisa Darmanin, an Olympic sailor and distinguished alumna of UNSW. Drawing upon her experiences navigating the challenges of a male-dominated sport, Lisa offered insights into the importance of resilience, perseverance, and self-belief in overcoming obstacles and achieving success. As she reflected on her journey to the Olympics and her upcoming participation in the Americas Cup as part of the first-ever women's team, Lisa emphasized the importance of women asserting their voices and breaking down barriers, both in sports and in life.

Olympic Sailor & UNSW Alumni - Lisa Darmanin

Next award for the night was the presentation of the Trailblazer award to Eleanor Pinkerton, a visionary leader and tireless advocate for women's participation in basketball. Eleanor's exemplary contributions to the UNSW basketball club, spanning over three years, has left a very recognisable mark on the sporting community. From her roles as club president and Women's initiative coordinator to her leadership with the women’s team about to join the University Basketball League (UBL) for the first time, Eleanor has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to fostering inclusivity and providing equal opportunities for female and non-binary students. Her pioneering efforts has not only elevated the profile of women's basketball within UNSW but had also paved the way for future generations of athletes to pursue their passion and excel on the court.

Trailblazer award recipient Eleanor Pinkerton

Finally, the much-anticipated Champion award was bestowed upon Charlie Stanwix, president of the UNSW Rowing Club, in recognition of her outstanding leadership and contributions to the club's unprecedented success. Under Charlie's guidance, the female squad has flourished, achieving remarkable milestones such as winning the nationwide Head of the Yarra race and excelling at championship regattas. Beyond her role as president, Charlie leads by example, dedicating countless hours to club activities, from organizing events to assisting with regatta logistics. Her steadfast commitment to the club and her pioneering role as one of the few female presidents in Rowing NSW clubs inspire others to break barriers in sports leadership, setting a precedent for excellence and inclusivity within the UNSW sporting community.

Charlie Stanwix winner of the Champion award

As the event drew to a close, the atmosphere was imbued with a sense of anticipation and excitement for the future. With over 20 nominees across the five categories, UNSW Sport is poised to build upon this momentum and continue making significant strides with the Active Women Strategy. In celebrating the achievements of these remarkable women, we not only honour their individual accomplishments but also reaffirm our collective commitment to fostering a more equitable and inclusive sporting landscape. As we look ahead, we recognise there is still a long way to go, but hopefully these events can be used as a reminder that we are heading in the right direction.


Congratulations to all of our nominees: 
Abbie Walsh
Caroline Holland 
Charlie Stanwix 
Clarissa Wiraharjo
Courtney Krahe
Eleanor Pinkerton
Erin Keogh 
Hayley Stanford 
Izzi Niven
Jamison Collier 
Ksenya A Konstantinoff
Maree Tsoukalas 
Molly Thomson  
Mondira Paul  
Monique Muskens 
Stephanie Westbrook 
Taylor Bennett
UNSW Hockey Club 
UNSW Raiders 
UNSW Rowing Club 
Winnie Yip