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Happy #IWD2017 everyone! #BeBoldForChange

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Date: 8 March 2017

This morning, our colleague, Dr Rachel Buchanan, curator of the Germaine Greer archive at the University of Melbourne, gave thanks to ‘the women who keep records, protect memory and who care for archives’.

On this day, as we focus on positive stories of achievement by women, we are reminded of the vital work that we ‘memory protectors’ do! Social media is alive with the sounds of celebration, telling us how far we’ve come, what we have achieved, and how we can achieve more. But understanding this change across time would not be possible without the work of the women who keep records. A perusal of the The Encylopedia of Women and Leadership in a Century of Australian Democracy provides us with ample evidence of many improvements to the status of Australian white women since Federation. Archivists provide the pay dirt of historical story-telling.

Nor would we understand the unacceptable historical continuities without their vigilance. How long have we been banging on about the gender pay gap? Muriel Heagney, who dedicated most of her adult life to the pursuit of equal pay for women, died in poverty in 1974. One can only imagine how angry she would be at the slow rate of improvement, were she alive today. Dr Rosemary Francis, a long time supporter and employee of the Australian Women’s Archive Project, has dedicated much of her professional life as an historian, tracking down the records that support her research into the life of this extraordinary activist.

Without records, women’s stories are lost and their achievements are overlooked. So today, as we celebrate the lives of women, let’s give thanks to those who work hard, for relatively little pay, to keep them safe. Happy International Women’s Day 2017!

Follow this link to read some records of an important early twentieth century activist for women, Bessie Rischbieth, as she explains the importance of International Women’s Day in 1946.

 

 

 

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