Although Serbia is a European country, the sanctions of the 1990s and poor growth since have had a devastating effect on the quality of life for many people. Every second woman in rural Serbia is formally unemployed and the statistics are even worse for older women and women from disadvantaged groups.

Understanding and recognising the uniqueness of our individual differences is what makes our communities and countries strong, inclusive and progressive.

As I arrive at the High Commission, which consists of 27 people, I greet Australians, Tongans and other nationalities. Together we seek to achieve a healthier and prosperous future for Tonga and maintain the strong relationship between our two countries.

It is clear that international cooperation will be key to combatting the world drug problem, and Australia is well-positioned to take a leadership role in this important global issue.

There are many courageous Bangladeshi women leading and advocating for empowerment, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself. Yet, in a deeply religious and patriarchal society, too many women and girls continue to face a brutal reality.

On International Women’s Day, DFAT’s South-East Asia Mainland and Regional Division reflects on how women have shaped and inspired their work. The result is an important and diverse set of reflections from a group of skilled and bold women.

Today is International Women’s Day. This year’s theme, Be Bold for Change, calls on all of us to step up to help create a world that is more inclusive and equal. The aim is for a world that is more peaceful and sustainable, where the contribution of women is recognised, valued and respected. Australia is committed to this endeavour.