A Feminist a Day: Edith Cowan

Who is she?

edith cowanEdith Cowan was Australia’s first female MP.

Edith had a tough life as a child – her mother died in childbirth when she was seven, and her father killed his second wife, and was hanged for the crime. Edith was sent to boarding school and as an adult became concerned with issues concerning women and children. In 1894 she founded the Karrakatta Club, which was dedicated to women educating themselves, and she campaigned for women’s suffrage.

She turned her efforts to helping prostitutes and disadvantaged children – she believed that children should not be tried as adults and founded the Children’s Protection Society, which was active in the foundation of children’s courts.

Edith stood for parliament at the age of 59 and was elected – she defeated the Attorney General at the time. While in Parliament she pushed through legislation which allowed women to be involved in the legal profession. She also won mothers the right to an equal place with fathers when their children died without having made a will.

Why should we thank her?

Edith opened the door for other women to enter Australian parliament and used her role to advocate for the rights of women and children.

Fun fact

Edith is on our $50 note and Edith Cowan University in Perth is named in her honour.

 

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A Feminist a Day: Edith Cowan

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