Famous Australian Women (Part 1)

It’s Women’s History Month, which means that it’s the perfect time to remember some of Australia’s most powerful and inspirational women.

It’s Women’s History Month, which means that it’s the perfect time to remember some of Australia’s most powerful and inspirational women. And there are a lot to choose from.

Disclaimer: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following contains images of deceased persons.

Edith Cowan.jpg
By Unknown – A digital image is available from the National Library of Australia NLA through their online catalogue, here. The NLA image includes spurious indexing information along the bottom. This image is a cropped version that eliminates the indexing text and the white border., Public Domain, Link

You probably know her as the woman on the back of the fifty dollar note, but Edith Cowan has made Australia richer in countless different ways. When she was born in 1861, in the (then-tiny) town of Geraldton, Western Australia, women couldn’t vote. But by 1921, Cowan was a member of the Parliament for Western Australia.

Her political success was a long time coming. In 1884, when the suffrage movement was gaining momentum across Australia, Cowan co-founded the influential Karrakatta Club, which promoted education for women and campaigned for women’s right to vote. Once this goal had been achieved in 1899, Cowan focused on healthcare for women and children, and she was instrumental in the creation of Perth’s King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women. She went on to co-found the Women’s Service Guilds, Western Australia’s National Council of Women, and the Children’s Protection Society.

By 1915, she was serving as a judge in the newly created children’s courts, and she became a justice of the peace a few years later. So when a law was passed in 1920 allowing women to stand for office, Cowan was an obvious candidate.

The following year, she ran for the Legislative Assembly seat of West Perth, defeating the Attorney General Thomas Draper to become the first woman ever elected to an Australian parliament. As a politician, she was a fierce champion of women’s rights and helped to bring more women into the legal profession.

Cowan was a feminist before the term even existed, and she never missed an opportunity to promote gender equality and social issues, right up until her death in 1932. Her historic win in West Perth paved the way for thousands of other women to pursue political careers. In 2010, Australia voted in its first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, and by 2014, women held 29 per cent of all parliamentary positions in Australia. There is still a long way to go, but without the pioneering efforts of women such as Edith Cowan, Australia would be a very different country.

If you too want to break new ground, we can set you on your way. At iFactory, we have helped countless women to harness the power of web design, ecommerce and digital marketing to make their dreams a reality.

Use Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day as the perfect time to unleash your inner Edith Cowan, and spread the word via social media. Follow the hashtags #IWD2017, #Gettingtoequal and #BeBoldForChange to add your voice. We’ll be there too. Check out our Pinterest board on Women in Technology.

Look out for part two of our ‘Famous Australian Women’ series, where we will be celebrating another inspirational woman who has changed the country for the better.

If this post has gotten you inspired, get in touch with iFactory to get your business idea off the ground.  See how we can help get your brand name out via digital marketing, web design and application development. Call us on +61 7 3844 0577.

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