HerStory

Edith Dircksey COWAN

Also known as: née Brown

Born: 2 August 1861

Died: 9 June 1932

Special Achievements:

An early pioneer for women and children's rights, she became the first woman member of any Australian Parliament; when aged 60, she won the seat of West Perth, taking her place in the Western Australian Parliament's Legislative Assembly in 1921. Today she is the female face on Australia's $50 note.

1915 - One of first women justices for the Western Australia's Children's Court.

1920 - Awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to Red Cross, the Soldiers' Welcome Committee, The Soldiers' Institute, Voluntary Aid Society and for Rights of Returned Soldiers.

1921 - First woman to be elected into an Australian Parliament - Western Australia Legislative Assembly, “as a member of the Nationalist Party, becoming Australia's first female parliamentarian”.

She was also the first woman to be elected to a British legislature anywhere in the world.

2001 - Inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.

Additional Information:

Foundation Member of the Children's Protection Society.

1894 - "One of the founding members of the Karrakatta Club, a women's literary circle intended to be an influential 'centre of opinion'.” She was the first secretary and later was vice-president and president.

late 1890s - She “began to be elected to the Boards of public entities, such as the Cottosloe Education Board and the Women's Service Guild.”

1906 - Founding member of “the Children's Protection Society, whose lobbying resulted in the creation of the Children's Court the following year.”

1909 - Co-founder of the Women's Service Guild.

1911 - Instrumental in establishing a state branch of the National Council of Women.

ca 1916 - Founding member “in the creation of the King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, and became a member of its advisory board when it opened.”

1920 - Appointed as a justice of the peace.


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