How has the role of Australian women changed in society?

Essay by believer_4evaHigh School, 10th grade August 2005

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It has been a hard fought battle for Australian women to achieve recognition and equality in a society dominated by men. Numerous events have revolutionised the roles of women in society.

One of the first victories for women was achieving suffrage. In 1901, only women in South Australia and Western Australia had voting rights. Following much campaigning, the Franchise Act (1902) was passed giving women in voting rights at Federal Level. Eventually, each state granted women suffrage. It was the efforts of women such as Vida Goldstein and Louisa Lawson that gave Australian women this right before many other countries.

During World War 1, women weren't required to replace men in the workforce and contributed to the war effort primarily by volunteer work in organisations such as the Australian Comforts Fund (ACF) and the Australian Red Cross. When women did enter the work force, it was acknowledged that it was only a short-term position as men were expected to return.

Women could stand for election in parliament from 1918. Edith Cowan was the first woman elected into Australian parliament. She introduced the Women's Legal Status Act (1923) which removed a ban on women practicing law and other professions.

The 1920s saw a considerable amount of change for women. The women or "flappers" had a lot more freedom. They could drink alcohol and smoke in public, wear shorter dresses and swim in revealing swimsuits.

In World War 2, women played a vital role replacing men in the workforce and prevented a collapse of the Australian economy. Women had access to a wider range of jobs and received higher rates of pay. When the war was over, women were once again expected to return to their traditional roles but this time, women fought back. In the Equal Pay Case (1969) the principle...