International Women’s Day in Australia
Shivani Bhatt, Foreign Correspondent in Australia, asks fellow students what they think about International Women’s Day and finds out why they believe it is still necessary.
Much like British suffrage history, Australian suffrage history starts as we know it at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1884, the first woman’s suffrage society, Victorian Women’s Suffrage Society, was formed. Before 1901, the different Australian states were independent colonies, and it was the colony of South Australia that first gave women the right to vote and stand for elections in 1895. In 1902, all non-indigenous women won the right to vote. For indigenous women, however, they had to wait until 1962 to vote, and only in 1967 were indigenous men and women included in the census as citizens. With some members of Australia getting the vote just over fifty years ago, what do Australian students of today think of their country and the place women and minorities have in it?
With some members of Australia getting the vote just over fifty years ago, what do Australian students of today think of their country and the place women and minorities have in it?
In Australia, from my experience, International Women’s Day isn’t that widely celebrated. Sure, there’s pins that you can wear, the major capital cities may have some sort of event and there may even be localised adverts that state how we should celebrate the achievements of women on the selected date. However, whilst the concept is something that I think should be commended, I don’t think it’s reached it’s full potential. Women here are still not equal to those of their male counterparts, unable to break through that glass ceiling and while International Women’s Day seeks to promote and eradicate such inequality, we might not even remember it. Each year the date arrives and we, usually, are only reminded by either an offhanded comment or a post on social media and then it is quickly forgotten about – at the forefront of our minds one moment and then lost until the next year. I think a day celebrating the achievements that women have made historically, as well as highlighting current issues women face and are fighting against, is a step towards the recognition of women from all different backgrounds. Yet, in Australia at least, it is only the tip of the iceberg for what is truly needed.
International Women’s Day is a chance for me, as a woman in the STEM field, to remember and thank all the women who have come before me. Their break into these male-dominated fields made it possible for me to be where I am today.
My opinion on International Women’s Day is that I’ve never really acknowledged it before, and it hasn’t had much of a spotlight (that I know of) in any of the communities I’ve been part of throughout my life (which have always been semi-rural and not as progressive as what cities are, I guess). For those that do acknowledge it, I can see it’s relevance as a solid acknowledgement of the progression and achievements women have made in society in the last century. But, I can see it not being as meaningful now in a modern day, first world country where newer generations of women are growing up having far better and, arguably, equal opportunities as men, which was obviously not the case when it was started.
Celebrating International Women’s Day is vital to society. It’s a day to celebrate women of all cultures and backgrounds. It’s also about raising awareness of the inequality that still lies in this world today. This day is acknowledging that we have come far, yet still have work to do. Today is about celebrating women’s achievements and understanding that in the end, if you are a woman or a man we are all humans and all deserve to have equal rights in life. I am lucky here in Australia – I have the right to vote, have a part time job and have access to education, however this is not the case in majority of the world. This needs to change now. I am a proud woman who will be celebrating International Women’s Day surrounded by the beautiful, strong women in my life.
International Women’s Day is about taking together and celebrating women’s rights, achievements and everyday moments throughout the world’s history and into the future. In Australia’s history, there has been the election of women to the Commonwealth Parliament in 1943 and women earned their right to consume alcohol in a licensed venue in 1965. Australia, in essence, has come a long way in comparison to other nations. Without these essential and equal rights, we as Australians, would only be putting our mothers, daughters, grandmothers and our friends at a great disservice. International Women’s Day is a widely celebrated annual event, to which all genders, sex and people celebrate together the incredible progression and achievements of these inspiring women.
Women’s Day in Australia represents fair and equal opportunities for all women. It represents not only the equality that women have but the praise women should receive for their hard work and dedication each and everyday. It is paying respect to the girls, women, mothers and such all around the nation that support not only their friends, colleagues and families, but also Australia as a whole and to that we say thank you.