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12 March - Edith Cowan, first woman in to Federal Parliament

Australian Events for the month of March
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12 March - Edith Cowan, first woman in to Federal Parliament

Unread postby Max ADU » Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:09 pm

Today in Australian History
Saturday, March 12, 1921


The first woman is elected to an Australian parliament.

South Australia was the first colony in Australia to give women the right to vote. This right occurred with the passing of a Bill on 18 December 1894.

Queen Victoria gave Royal Assent on 2 February 1895. Women in South Australia voted for the first time in the election of 1896. Initially, the bill included a clause preventing women from becoming members of Parliament. Ironically, the clause was removed thanks to the efforts of Ebenezer Ward, an outspoken opponent of women's suffrage.

Ward hoped the inclusion of women in Parliament would be seen as so ridiculous that the whole Bill would be voted out.

The change was accepted, however, allowing the women of South Australia to gain complete parliamentary equality with men.

Within thirty years, the first woman was elected to Federal Parliament in Australia.

Edith Cowan was born Edith Brown on 2 August 1861 on Glengarry Station near Geraldton, Western Australia. She married magistrate James Cowan when she was 18, and his work opened her eyes to the suffering of wives and children when the man of the family was sentenced to gaol.

After becoming a magistrate of the Perth Children’s Court, a position she held for 18 years, Mrs Cowan campaigned heavily for the rights of children.

Although South Australian women had gained equal parliamentary rights with men towards the close of the 19th century, women in Western Australia had to wait until 1920.

Edith_Cowan.jpg

In 1921, Edith Cowan stood as the candidate for the Nationalist Party in West Perth, for the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia. On 12 March 1921, Mrs Cowan narrowly defeated the sitting member, state Attorney-General TP Draper, by just 46 votes.

Thus, she became the first woman to be elected to any Australian Parliament. In her debut speech in Parliament, she stated:

"I stand here today in the unique position of being the first woman in an Australian Parliament. I know many people think perhaps that it was not the wisest thing to do to send a woman into Parliament ... The views of both sides are more than ever needed in Parliament today.

If men and women can work for the State side by side and represent all the different sections of the community, and if the male members of the house would be satisfied to allow women to help them and would accept their suggestions when they are offered, I cannot doubt that we should do very much better work in the community than was ever done before."


Edith Cowan served in the Western Australian Legislative Assembly until 22 March 1924.
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Re: 12 March - Edith Cowan, first woman in to Federal Parlia

Unread postby Max ADU » Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:20 pm

update
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Max ADU
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Posts: 728
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Location: Burpengary QLD
First Name: Max
Location - City or Town: Burpengary
State: QLD
Country: Australia


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