Jenny Dowell accepting her award from the Minister for Women Jodi McKay (left) and the Minister for Local Government Barbara Perry.
Jenny Dowell accepting her award from the Minister for Women Jodi McKay (left) and the Minister for Local Government Barbara Perry.

Wonder woman recognised

When Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell heard her name read out as the winner of the regional/rural elected representative award at the NSW Women in Local Government Awards she nearly fell over.

“I was standing up and my knees went wobbly,” Jenny said. “It was quite overwhelming because I knew a lot of the other women in the room, who are great women, mayors and other councillors who I’ve worked with over the years through the Women for Local Government Association.”

Crs Simon Clough and Vanessa Ekins nominated Jenny for the award, which was announced on International Women’s Day, on Monday.

“Four days after her election as Mayor of Lismore, Jenny was informed of a positive result to a breast cancer screening. She subsequently had a mastectomy and chemotherapy treatment, losing her hair,” Cr Clough wrote in the nomination. “Shortly after completing chemotherapy Jenny played a remarkable leadership role in the floods of May 2009. Jenny was a very visible symbol of Lismore community’s determination to get back to work as soon as possible. The night of the flood, with virtually no sleep, Jenny visited all the major crisis points.

“During the period of her treatment Jenny did not take any leave and missed only one Council workshop when she was in hospital. There have been lighter moments in this journey, for instance at a recent breast cancer breakfast Jenny publicly removed and displayed her prosthesis with the aim of breaking down barriers and stereotypes. Through her leadership and courage Jenny has transformed a significant personal health crisis into an opportunity to promote breast cancer awareness.”

Jenny said it was wonderful to win the award and that more women should think about running for local council.

“I think women undersell their skills. Speaking personally, I didn’t think I had the skills to be a councillor until I started coming to meetings. Once you decide to explore a direction then I think it’s easier to see that you have the skills and the ability to do the job. I don’t think I have a thick skin at all, and I don’t want to be tough and hard, but when you believe what you’re doing is right you can withstand the slings and arrows.”


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