Anita and Elvira's story

A MOTHER-daughter duo has raised an incredible $40,000 to support Cancer Council Victoria's cancer research, prevention, and support programs after hosting their tenth Girls' Night In event in October.

Anita Samardzija and her mother, Elvira Samardzija, started hosting Girls’ Night In events in 2011. Anita saw an advertising poster for it at a train station in Melbourne and was immediately drawn to it.  

"I asked a few friends if they were willing to support it and they said yes. I told my mother about it. She's not a party-planner by profession, but she should be," Anita said.  

I was imagining something small, but we just thought we'd invite as many women as we knew – friends, friends' mothers, and family members,” 

Forty-four women are diagnosed with cancer in Victoria every day. This statistic is what spurs on Anita and Elvira to continue to host Girls' Night In events.  

"Our first event was probably the most disorganised event we had ever had. We had a raffle and a silent auction. We also supplied food and played some games together.  

"In one year, we had a friend's jazz band play. Two years ago, we had a country theme. We've also had a Turkish theme, and we had a Christmas in October theme. Girls' Night Ins can be whatever you want them to be," Anita added.  

Due to the COVID pandemic, Anita decided not to host a GNI this year but organised an online raffle with her mum.  

"My mum is a great bargain-hunter. Anything she sees on sale, she buys. We were able to re-gift unused Christmas presents from family members,” Anita said.  

Anita said the nights aren't just for women.  

"Dad has been there to help with the hosting and organises the food," Anita said.  

"My boyfriend has been there to take lots of photos, and we get them to sell raffle tickets. It's lovely to have them involved."  

Anita said the last two years have been "disappointing and sad" in that she hasn't been able to host an in person GNI.  

"It's become a yearly event for some people. Sometimes I don't see them unless it's at a Girls Night In. It's just something you'd do on the last Saturday of October.  

As for hosting next year's event, which Anita hopes will be in person: "I can't wait, we will try and get another band again next year because it's been so long, I imagine, that people have seen live music. It will be great!" Anita added. 

Anita was overwhelmed by the support she received from the Victorian community after sharing her GNI Fundraising Page with a friend.  

"She shared it around, in came $200, and in came $500, and I couldn't believe it. It just kept on coming," Anita said.  

 Anita and Elvira raised $40,065 for women living with cancer in 2021.  

"It's always sweet and touching to see people catching up with people they know and have fun for an extremely worthwhile cause," Anita added.  

"Cancer Council Victoria has done some incredible work in not only cancer research, but in the way they help cancer patients.  

“For example, if someone from the country needs to go to treatment in Melbourne, they try and make that as easy as possible through their Transport to Treatment program." 

To sign up to host your own Girls' Night In please visit: 

Get the girls together and Host a Girls' Night In just like Anita and Elvira