A Feminist a Day: Louisa Lawson

Who is she?

louisa lawsonLouisa Lawson was a publisher, poet and journalist. She’s known as the “mother of womanhood suffrage” in Australia – and she’s also Henry Lawson’s mum.

Louisa married and had five children, but left her husband in 1883 to start a boarding house in Sydney. In 1888, she started Dawn, a publication written, printed and edited by women for women. She hired women printers and faced down opposition from the Typographical Association, who wanted them dismissed.

Louisa campaigned for women’s suffrage and in Dawn, editorialised about opening up new career paths for women. She is credited with making the right to vote a precondition of a federated Australia.

Why should we thank her?

Louisa was a voice for advancing women’s issues for the first time in the media in Australia and was considered the originator of the NSW women’s suffrage campaign.

Best quote

“Whatever a woman does or is, she is criticised. The most innocuous qualities could be twisted to show her in a bad light… If she is vivacious and enjoys social life she is a ‘flirt’ or a ‘gadabout’, if she is quiet or of a more serious turn of mind she is ‘withdrawn’ or ‘stupid’. Through such sneers in conversation, writings, jokes or cartoons, contempt for women was handed down from one generation to the next…It was time… for some systematic analysis of this constant crusade in the newspapers here in Sydney and all over the civilised world…habitual belittlement leads women to mistrust themselves and silently tolerated jests against womankind.”

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A Feminist a Day: Louisa Lawson

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