3 Facts about Women's History in Australia you may not know
Women’s History Month 2022 Australia
To celebrate Women’s History Month in Australia, we are sharing 3 interesting facts you may not have known about in Australian History.
Women’s History Month is celebrated in Australia, in the month of March, together with the United States and United Kingdom. It is a month to celebrate the contributions that women have made to Australia, and recognise their achievements in Australian History.
As a British colonised country, Australia shares a complex, dark and tragic past with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
In the spirit of reconciliation HerParade acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
Approximately 1 in 7 convicts shipped to Australia from England during 1788-1868 were women
Australian Women’s rights have come a long way, since the first British convict ships landed on the Australian shorelines in 1788. Transported for petty crimes from England, women along with men were sent on an eigh month voyage to Australia as free settlers.
It’s believed 1 in 7 of convicts were women.
It was a harsh reality for these women. Having to look after themselves, find their own shelter, clothing and bedding. Women were often forced into prostitution as a means of payment and survival.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s plight was even worse, as they were not seen as equal among their British female counterparts either.
With Australia starting with such a gender imbalance, women minority population and even inequality between white women and Indigenous women, it can be seen as a precursor to the future struggles for equal rights in the future generations.
The 'Parramatta Female Factory' in New South Wales was the site of the colony’s first manufactured export in 1822. It was also the site of Australia’s first industrial action by Women in 1827.
The Parramatta Female Factory was one of thirteen other Female Factories in Australia at the time.
It was a multi-purpose facility, where women were assigned, married-off, worked, seeked asylum, and were punished for crimes committed. The factory manufactured cloth, where women did spinning, knitting, straw plaiting, washing, rock breaking.
In 1822, women produced the first manufactured Export for New South Wales, which was a large 55,000 meters of woven-cloth.
The factories were considered to have women working in “slave-like” conditions, often being over capacity with insufficient beds, living quarters or rations. We can only imagine what this would have been like. This eventually lead to the first industrial action lead by women in 1827.
These women ignited the fight for gender equality and women’s rights in Australia.
Australian Women lead the world in bringing women the right to vote during the late nineteenth Century.
Today when you go to the polls, its different. You have a given right to vote in your state and federal election. But it wasn’t always that way.
In the lead-up to 1900s, the Women’s Suffrage Movement resulted in Australian Women being able to vote in local elections, federal elections in 1902 and state elections in 1908. A significant achievement in women being allowed to vote in key state and federal matters, and paving the way for female representatives in parliament.
Today it might seem like there’s a lot of female representatives in State and Federal Parliament, however after 1902, it would then take women another 20 years to be able to vote for a female representative federally and another 40 years to actually have a female representative in office. (Remember, our first female Australian Prime Minister was Julia Gaillard in 2010).
While Australian Women have made a lot of progress over the last century, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Interestingly, the number of women in Australia is approximately 12.8million, making up over 50% of the Australian population. Yet, women still face gender bias, are more likely to have less secure work, be working part-time, earn less than their male-counterparts. Even with a population majority, women are still underrepresented in management positions and politics.
What can you do today to help the women of tomorrow?
It's important to know, that you don't have to do big things to change the world.
By improving yourself, your knowledge, supporting and helping other women, you help the next generation of women.
Some suggestions more specifically how you can help:
- Invest in yourself - learn and improve on skills, such as communication, negotiation.
- Know your worth - when charging for your product or service, don't undervalue yourself.
- Seek out positions of authority - be a voice with influence
- Advocate for yourself and others who may not be able to be heard
- If you see unfair bias, act upon it
- Research and join a Women's cause you believe in
Do you have any other suggestions or projects you are involved in?
Please comment below, would love to hear!
Author: Mira, HerParade