The elegant and cosy reception hall of the Ibleo Social Club in the heart of Northcote was packed with over 140 members and their friends.

Guests enjoyed an exquisite complimentary lunch as they listened to speeches detailing the extraordinary role and contribution women make, not only to the family, but to every field of society and human knowledge more broadly.

With a touch of pride, club president Salvatore (Sam) Lo Grasso welcomed members and guests.

“The committee and I are delighted to organise and offer this lunch to you all, because we believe it is right and proper as a club to open our doors for occasions like today’s, which aims to celebrate women in all that they represent for the progress of our community,” said Lo Grasso.

This was followed by the public relations manager of the association, Lina Palermo, who greeted members and friends before welcoming the day’s special guest speaker, Giovanna Palma.

“Born in Fitzroy, Giovanna (Gianna to her friends) is the first of three children of Roberto and Pina, emigrants from Molise who decided to return to their village in the hills of Larino when Gianna was a child,” said Lo Grasso.

“It was there that Gianna completed her studies, before moving to Perugia to graduate in Foreign Languages and Literature.

“A life in Italy full of study, work and good friendships, Gianna always had her mind set on Australia.

“Together with her husband Marco, she returned almost eight years ago. Today, she works in public administration and in her spare time she devotes herself to cooking, dancing and her social network page dedicated to the world of make-up and skin care.”

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Gianna began, “for inviting me to share some thoughts on the role of women on the eve of this day that is so important for all of us.

“I’m honoured to be here with you, a symbolic generation of women who have been able to reinvent themselves, building or rebuilding a life from scratch in a land far from the one where we have all left a piece of our hearts.

“Each one of us carries within us a common experience made up of joys and hardships, of tears held back and eyes shining with emotion when thinking of a distant love (Italy), or watching our children and grandchildren grow.

“Regardless of the different stories, I feel I can say that we are united by the shared feeling of women who, day after day, offer ourselves, our families and the whole of society our best.

“Time is the most precious thing we have. Time for ourselves, to better our lives, to give ourselves the privilege of cultivating our own individuality. Only by giving ourselves time, will we be better people, and therefore better grandmothers, mothers, wives, friends, life companions and professionals.”

In her speech, Gianna paid homage to the memory of two Italian women who, by managing their time with care, attention and sacrifice, achieved something significant, Maria Montessori and astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

“These [stories] that I have chosen,” Gianna said, “are positive stories of the vindication of one’s individuality and of the role of women not based on sterile and fruitless rearguard battles.

“[These are] stories of women who gave everything to achieve success and, as a result … the entire community has benefited.

“[They are] Italian women who have left a significant mark on the history and lives of all of us, not only in Italy … [but] all over the world.”

With a long applause, the hall thanked Gianna before all guests and members present continued the beautiful afternoon, celebrating women in the family and society.