Choosing to challenge this International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March each year, recognising the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women and marking a call to action to progress gender equality.

In keeping with this year’s theme, Choose to Challenge, Murdoch University marked the occasion with the screening of Brazen Hussies, a documentary chronicling the history of the Women's Liberation Movement in Australia.

The film showed audiences how a daring group of women rallied around issues such as equal pay, reproductive rights, affordable childcare, and the prevention of family violence. These women, once dismissed as a few ‘brazen hussies’, joined forces to defy the status quo and create profound social change.

This International Women’s Day, we spoke to one of Western Australia’s leading women’s rights activists, Diana Warnock OAM. Mrs Warnock was at the forefront of the women’s liberation movement in Perth – a fierce advocate for women’s rights from the 60s to today.  

A former radio broadcaster and women's rights activist, Diana was elected to the State Parliament as the Member for Perth in 1993, where she was a spokesperson for Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs, the Arts and, of course, Women’s Interests.  

In 1983 Diana was a founding member of the Women’s Advisory Council (WAC) which was established to demonstrate the government’s desire to address the needs of Western Australian women. 

From 1978 to 1982, she was also a leading figure in the development of women’s studies at Murdoch University.

Reflecting on the period, Mrs Warnock said the women’s rights era was about finishing the business carried out by our foremothers.  

I saw it as finishing off the work of a previous generation of feminists and women’s rights activists. On the shoulders of those women, we managed to do an enormous number of things.”

Mrs Warnock and her contemporaries fought for women’s right to choose and campaigned for women’s health more generally. They were involved with women’s education and they led initiatives to end rape and domestic violence.

“We worked very hard at making changes for women quite frankly we made dozens, if not hundreds of changes over those 30 years – all of which were all necessary.

“But there are still things to be done. So, any young woman who thinks she can relax on the couch, I say, not just yet.”

Posted on:

8 Mar 2021

Share this article:

Show your support

Clap to show your support for the article