This International Women’s Day I want to acknowledge and celebrate my dear friend, mentor, and guide of so many women I know, Rosalind Strong AM.
There are those of us who threaten to ‘move the needle for women’ but Ros really was one of those people getting it done. She wrestled women’s issues to the ground her whole life. Her very special gift, I think, was that she could tap others, and set them alight to do the same.
I don’t know whether Ros was born that way? In her presence, you knew she was here to do a thing. You could feel it. You could also feel her kindness. A genuine ‘well-wish’ in her speech. Ros truly focused on every person she met, she listened deeply, she learned from them, she accepted them. I don’t think there is anyone who could not feel worthy around Ros. To her, equity and a person’s value was a given.
Perhaps Ros learned how to inspire others in her time as a teacher and Deputy Principal? Maybe being a guide to young people and helping them reach their full potential drove her? Maybe she brought that learned skill into all areas of her life that came after.
She was a fighter for what is right. That I know.
Her Great Aunt Maybanke Anderson whose name she bears as a middle name was a fighter too. In life, and for women. Maybe it was hereditary.
I, fortunately, received the Ros tap some 10 years ago and it was life-changing. And… it was at a time when I really needed it. I think this was the second part of her very special gift. She knew when you needed to be set alight… And with her strong voice and surety, she lit a fire underneath you, to do good.
Ros introduced me to a world of women doing great things and to the idea that anything is possible. That moves can be made, and battles can be won. She also gave me a chance. She let me in.
My former boss said to me yesterday that Ros and her husband Tony “were incredibly good citizens, decent people, they made a life of it” – a rare and dying pursuit, the value of which cannot be understated.
The ingredients of this special skill? I think I finally worked out what they were at her husband Tony’s funeral last month…. Ros knew how to offer ordinary people like me, a lot of inspiration, and a pinch of obligation when she met them, and she had the knack of allowing them to believe in themselves.
Ros has inspired and will continue to inspire so many to wrestle BIG issues to the ground. Particularly those faced by women in Sydney and across the world.
I will miss Ros greatly. She passed away on Saturday the 4th of March, 2023.
It’s a rip-off to lose someone, something like Ros.
To make a donation in memory of Ros Strong please donate to the Maybanke Fund.
Written by Loredana Fyffe, CEO of Sydney Community Foundation.