Celebrating 125 Years of Women’s Suffrage

This year South Australia celebrates the
hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of groundbreaking landmark legislation that
enabled women for the first time in Australia to vote in general elections
but not only that to stand as members of parliament. We were the first University
in Australia and among the very earliest in the world to admit women to all of
our degree programs. The University of Adelaide particularly deserves
acknowledgment for its historical role in allowing women to study alongside men
since the commencement of classes in 1876 and it should come as no surprise
that a lot of those who are involved in the suffrage campaign were also
associated with the University. Courtney in her final year of Bachelor of social
sciences completed an internship researching the university’s involvement
in the women’s suffrage suffrage movement and she found some
pretty interesting things I think she found some things that nobody had heard
before she dug up some pretty interesting stories women were coming
here and wanting to be educated wanting to study here and I think just that um
the naturalness of them you know thinking analytically about things and
thinking well if I’m getting the same marks as my male students here like why
shouldn’t I have the right to vote. I came of course from the baby boomer
generation after the war when women ahead of me encouraged to leave the
workforce and women were not much encouraged to look for careers for
themselves I was one of a very small percentage of the year who passed all
their subjects at the first attempt. Coming to Adelaide University was
my first real embrace or being amazed by the feminist activist sisterhood I
mean I got to hone my theoretical knowledge it was wonderful to learn
about the history of my state and to learn about feminist policy and theory
but also the first club I joined was women on campus and went on to become
women’s officer so this was the closest thing to me to a religion. We can’t claim
that we’ve made you know these great strides if we start to stop looking over
our shoulder and leaving people behind us that’s not true equality and that’s
what all activists in my opinion should be focusing on. It was it was very
different time for me I did women’s studies then a whole world opened up for
me and I realized the choices that I had that I didn’t realize before nothing
will hold you back more than unequal parenting unequal housework if you have
children those are parental responsibilities not
just mothers responsibilities. Stories of these women have inspired us all and they shine a wonderful light on the values of our university values of excellence of leadership of
contribution to society of a university that was founded on the premise of
providing opportunities for all.

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