Balwyn, Victoria, Australia
- 23 March 2017
- Women's Liberationist and Trade unionist
Mary Owen was founding Coordinator of The Working Women's Centre Melbourne, 1975-1986, when it was absorbed into the Australian Council of Trade Unions. She was a staff member of AAESDA (Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors & Draughtsmen of Australia), 1965 -1975 and a member of La Trobe University Council 1983-1990. She was appointed Deputy Chancellor of La Trobe University 1989. A founding member of Emily's List, Mary Owen was also a Member of the Women's Electoral Lobby (WEL) for over forty-three years. She represented WEL on many Government committees, making a significant impact on policies advancing the status of women, especially the fight for equal pay.
In 1986 the first Mary Owen Dinner was organised in Melbourne to celebrate Mary's retirement. Held annually, the event lasted twenty years. There was always a female keynote speaker and the audience, normally in the order of 600 women, wearing the feminist colours of purple, green and white, was a sight to behold. The last dinner was held in 2005.
Mary Owen was a very early supporter of the Australian Women's Archives Project, which began as a community based organisation's response to a request from Mary Owen for help with conserving the records of her long and varied contribution to public life.
Born in 1921, Mary was a woman who effected change - and made Australia a better, more equal place for all of us coming after her. She died 23 March, 2017.