2022 Video Live

Women on the tools

Image of two women, Leslie (left) and Galia (right) standing next to each other in high vis jackets inside of The Women's Shed.

Sometimes when you can’t see change, you have to become it. And that’s exactly what Women’s Shed founders Sunita Kotnala and Roby McGarvey did.

Through sheer determination, these passionate women have lit a spark that has spread wildly throughout the ACT. With over 100 members and two locations, one at Thor’s Hammer and the other at Hughes, this trailblazing community are proving stereotypes wrong, one power tool at a time. 

But for the majority of women at this shed, they won’t tell you a story of empowerment.

In creativity, dust, deafening machinery and wry banter, these women speak of a future where women using tools isn’t inspiring or even perhaps out of the ordinary – it’s what women can and will do.

Galia, a Women’s Shed regular, has always created with her hands, finding her way to the shed in the pursuit of more space, tools and a like-minded community.

“It’s really nice to come here and see women that are not like totally gobsmacked because you do stuff that women aren’t supposed to be doing. Also, as you can hear from my accent, I’m not Australian, but I think Australia is a lot more chauvinistic than where I come from, and there are these attitudes of a bit like patronising. And so, I’m like excuse me – I’m not delicate,”


This sense of frustration perhaps binds these women together- anchored to their upbringing in the 60s and 70s, where women were never encouraged to use tools, limited to careers such as teaching or hairdressing.

One woman describes, with a mixture of anger and melancholy, her dreams to pursue a trade, only to be met with laughter and gut-wrenching doubt. Other women talk of their disarming vulnerability after their husband’s death – unable to fix basic appliances around the house and hesitant to call mechanics for small jobs.

But slowly, these narratives have transformed, with liberation and confidence making their way to the fore. And while change takes time, at the hands of supportive and safe spaces like the Women’s Shed, change is inevitable.