The Rights of Women

Ending off a rather difficult year, I decided that yesterday was a day to treat myself and see the acclaimed ‘Suffragette’ movie at the local renovated Majestic Sawtell Cinema.

This was a brilliant decision as I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a part of history being played out on the big screen. It made me reflect on how much these suffragettes suffered to ensure women had better conditions and the right to vote. It took decades for women to gain equal rights, although this is not a given across the world. Through men’s ignorance and determination to pull women down these women had the strength and determination with many suffering personally they achieved what we women today take for granted.

Reflecting on history and how long it took to gain the rights for women to vote, especially in the UK, USA, and Australia. However Australian women through the Australian movement of suffragettes, such as Jessie Street Australian women gained the right across Australia to vote in 1902 although South Australia and Western Australia were a few years earlier.

The United Kingdom and the United States followed ten years later.

When I lived and worked in Sydney I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Jessie Street Annual Luncheons at Parliament House. Jessie was a key figure in Australian political life for over 50 years, from the women’s suffrage struggle in England to the removal of Australian constitutional discrimination against Aboriginal people. She was recognised both in Australia and internationally for her activism in women’s rights and social justice.

Although Jessie had passed away in 1970 it was at these annual luncheons that I would listen intently to the stories being told by the elders in attendance regarding their personal struggles and what they had to endure to make our lives much better today. These women were the extraordinary Australian suffragettes.

Years on and there is another struggle for women, domestic violence. Through the heartache of a mother Rosie Batty losing her son to domestic violence pushes our nation into facing the disturbing reality that as a country we have a long way to go to stop domestic violence.

Could Rosie Batty be today’s Jessie Street and achieve the ‘stopping of domestic violence’?

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