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International Women's Day at the Parliament of Western Australia, 8 March 2019

"More powerful together"

Protest group at Helena and Aurora Range, Bungalbin, 27 September 2015
Image courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia: Rob Neave Collection of photographs BA2741/36
"Better the balance, better the world"

WA Labor's female members outside Parliament House
Photograph by Marie Nirme, Perth Now, 19 March 2017
Highest number of women MPs

There are 30 women MPs in the Parliament of Western Australia, the highest percentage (31.5%) of female representation in the WA Parliament since the election of Edith Cowan. For further information on the women in the Parliament of Western Australia read the fact sheets:
Parliamentary Events

Parliament painted purple
The front facade of Parliament House (faces the city) will be lit in purple on the night of International Women's Day, 8 March 2019. It will remain lit up over the weekend.
    Tour Parliament
    Parliament's tour guides will be presenting one hour public tours throughout the week of 4-8 March 2019 with an emphasis on the contribution of women in parliament.
    Days and Times:
    • Monday to Thursday: 10:30am
    • Friday: 2pm
    Meeting Point: main entrance
    Telephone: (08) 9222 7222
    Cowan: the first Woman MP in Australia

    Above is the new $50 banknote, issued in October 2019, featuring Edith Cowan, the first woman member of parliament in Australia. The new note has a picture of King Edward Memorial Hospital because Edith Cowan, as vice-president of the Women's Service Guild, was instrumental in establishing the hospital for women. The note also includes an excerpt of Cowan's inaugural speech in parliament. Another interesting detail is a picture of the gumnut brooch Cowan had made to symbolise women's entry into Parliament was a ‘hard nut to crack’.
    The Woman on the $50 note

    Edith Cowan was the first woman parliamentarian in Australia. She was elected as a Nationalist to the seat of West Perth in 1921. Read about her life:

    Read a poem entitled Ode to Edith to commemorate Edith Cowan's life, written by a parliamentary education officer.
    "The proper place for a woman..."

    In 1893 WA Premier Sir John Forrest said that "the proper place for a woman was to look after her home and not be running all over the place". WA women finally won the right to vote in 1899 but not the right to sit in parliament until 1920. Read more about the fight for universal suffrage, suffragettes and women MPs:
    May Holman: the first Labor Woman

    May Holman Western Australian Member of the Legislative Assembly...

    This photograph was taken in New South Wales, 18 June 1927 when May Holman was a Western Australian Member of Parliament. The image is part of the Fairfax archive of glass plate negatives.

    Photograph courtesy of the National Library of Australia: PIC/15611/8488
    Who was the marvellous Miss Holman?

    Miss May Holman was the first Labor member of the Parliament of Western Australia. She was also the second woman to hold a seat in an Australian parliament. May Holman won her father, John Holman's seat of Forrest in a by-election, after his death in 1925. Tragically she died aged 45 years, after a car accident on the eve of the 1939 state election. Read more about her life:
    And who was the marvellous Miss Matters? and more...

    Listen to Hamish Macdonald interview historian, Clare Wright about The marvellous Miss Matters: in his radio programme, Conversations on ABC Radio.

    Parliament's Education Office has produced a
    Student Resource Book: Module 3, Meet Joe Blogs, Years 9 & 10 with a special look at women and politics.

    The Parliament of Western Australia and the Battye Library have established an oral history collection. There are interviews with former WA women MPs including June Craig, Cheryl Edwardes, Kay Hallahan, Carol Martin, Margaret McAleer, Winifred Piesse, Ljiljanna Ravlich, Barbara Scott and Diana Warnock. The women discuss their political lives. The transcripts and recordings are housed in The State Library collection. Listen online.
    Carmen Lawrence: the first Australian Premier

    Carmen Lawrence speaking to the Women in Management Group, Australian Institute of Management, Perth, 16 April 1991

    Image courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia: Stevenson, Kinder & Scott Corporate Photography BA1119/D6154-35
    1st in Class: WA Women MPs

    Dr Carmen Lawrence became Australia's first woman premier on 12 February 1990. She was elected to the seat of Subiaco on 8 February 1986. Western Australia has had a surprising number of firsts by women in Australian politics:

    For further information about these firsts read the fact sheet: WA Women Firsts
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