Monday, February 25, 2008

Suffrage celebrations

The following media release was issued by the THE MINISTER FOR WOMEN'S AFFAIRS recently

DATE: Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Acting Premier Rob Hulls and Minister for Women’s Affairs Maxine Morand today launched a heritage tram to kick off celebrations to mark 100 years since Victorian women won the right to vote.Onboard, Mr Hulls and Ms Morand were joined by the descendants of suffragists and women who signed the 1891 Monster Petition for women’s right to vote, female ministers and parliamentary luminaries as they departed Parliament House to travel to a waiting crowd at Federation Square.The tram, painted in the suffrage colours of violet, green and white, will promote the celebrations for the Centenary that was a turning point in democracy and changed the shape of Victoria.“Victoria’s democracy began in 1856, when the first election was held, but it was not until the Adult Suffrage Bill of 1908 was passed by the Legislative Council that women had the right to say how they were governed and by whom,” Mr Hulls said.“Today, we pay tribute to the suffragists and their determined quest for equality between women and men.”“Despite repeated defeats, they never gave up their struggle because they believed that women could not make any of the changes needed in society without first winning the right to vote.“We have much to thank and learn from them today as we continue to take on the challenges that remain in our quest to enable everybody to participate fully in society and have a say.”Ms Morand, who is responsible for the Victorian Women Vote 1908 - 2008 anniversary program, said the suffragists had been an inspiration for 100 years.“Women’s participation in democracy is an ongoing journey. Women gained the right to vote in 1908 but it was not until 1933 that the first woman was elected at a Victorian general election and not until 1982 that the first female, Pauline Toner, was appointed to cabinet,” she said.“Progress has been achieved but greater participation by women in politics is highly desirable.”Mr Hulls said that the principles for which the suffragists fought were universal - equality, justice and tolerance. “Only last week I stood listening to the National Apology – a reminder that these principles are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.”The Suffrage tram highlights two of the women who led the cause back in 1908 - Vida Goldstein and Annette Bear-Crawford – which “thanks to support from Yarra Trams” will run on the city circle line until the end of November. The Brumby Government has allocated over $1 million to mark the Victorian Women Vote 1908 – 2008 anniversary, including:· More than 50 Centenary of Women’s Suffrage Grants worth $346,700 to community groups and organisations to explore or celebrate the history of the Suffrage campaign, celebrate Victorian women’s contribution in the past 100 years and to recognise the value of civic and political participation;· Curriculum materials for upper primary and secondary students – Victoria’s leaders of tomorrow;· A public lecture series in partnership with the City of Melbourne’s Melbourne Conversations for September and October, which will explore the past and future for Victorian women;· A digital storytelling project in partnership with ACMI will enable contemporary reflections on the essential contribution of women to politics and civic life;· The recreation of the Monster Petition where 20 calico banners displaying the Victorian Women Vote 1908 – 2008 logo will travel throughout Victoria with the aim of collecting 30,000 signatures in acknowledgement of the efforts of the early suffragists’ fight for equality. These banners will be sewn together and displayed at the November Grand Finale;· The Grand Finale – to be held in November – that will include the unveiling of contemporary sculpture in central Melbourne that commemorates the 1891 Monster Petition.Ms Morand said it was important to celebrate in 2008 through the extraordinary range of activities, events and exhibitions offered throughout Victoria, all of which pick up the year’s theme Knowing our past, transforming our future.“Many of these events will capture the suffrage themes of struggle, persistence and human spirit through the use of art, theatre and music.”Other activities will complete the picture of Victoria’s untold history by researching the histories of their local suffragists and women who signed the Monster Petition.The Aboriginal community, through the Koorie Heritage Trust, the Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Cooperative and the Aborigines Advancement League will explore the history of indigenous women’s fight for the right to vote.Other groups, including the Australian Local Government Women’s Association, Women’s Participation in Local Government Coalition, the Australian Vietnamese Women’s Welfare Association, the Islamic Women’s Welfare Council of Victoria and the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria, will use the anniversary to encourage women to become more active in civic and community life. “Women matter in local democracies. They are active citizens and leaders in many communities yet they are still under-represented on councils and business life,” said Ms Morand.“This Centenary will help us to focus on the value of the vote 100 years on and the political participation of women as local citizens, voters and candidates,” she added.Entertainment at Federation Square was provided by the Women’s Circus and the Australian Girls’ Choir.

No comments: