• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE0805

Greenwood, Irene Adelaide

(1898 – 1992)
  • Born 9 December, 1898, Albany Western Australia Australia
  • Died 31 December, 1992, Perth Western Australia Australia
  • Occupation Activist, Broadcaster, Feminist, Pacifist, Peace activist, Writer


A tireless campaigner and activist for over fifty years, Irene Adelaide Greenwood’s interests in feminism and the peace movement were formed through her mother Mary Driver’s involvement with the Women’s Services Guild. The achievements of Greenwood’s life’s work are considerable and her commitment and energy was recognized in the many awards bestowed on her. These include Member of the Order of Australia, the first woman to receive an Honorary Doctorate at Murdoch University, recognition as the strategist behind the implementation of the Chair in Peace Studies at Murdoch University, the United Nations Association of Australia Silver Peace Medal and honorary life membership, Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal, appointment to the National Advisory Committee on Women’s Affairs in 1974 and the naming of the flagship of the State ship’s fleet M.V. Irene Greenwood in her honour. Greenwood was also a life or honorary member of many key international, national and state peace and women’s organizations.


As early as 1916 Irene Greenwood was sensitized to issues of social justice sharing her mother’s concern for the oppression of Aborigines and women. In 1920 she participated in Perth’s first strike by civil servants marking the beginning of a long career in political activism. In 1931 she moved from Perth to Sydney where she began a career in broadcasting, at the same time developing a radical political consciousness and experience in the women’s movement. Returning to Perth in 1935 she worked on the ABC’s Women’s Session and then moved to commercial radio instituting the popular Woman to Woman programme. Greenwood retired from radio in 1953. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, she intensified her involvement in the women’s and peace movements, traveling as a delegate to national conferences and forums and in 1965 to The Hague and Zurich for the Golden Jubilee Congress of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She edited Peace and Freedom the official organ for Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom until she was into her seventies. Locally Greenwood was party to the formation of the Western Australian Council for Equal Pay and Opportunity and edited Equal Pay News for the duration of the organization’s existence. She participated in the foundation of Western Australian branches of the Family Planning Association, the Abortion Law Repeal Association, Women’s Liberation and Women’s Electoral Lobby. Greenwood expressed a special love for history, organising displays of the founders of the Women’s Movement and documenting the history of Western Australian women’s organizations and feminism. She bestowed a vast archive of unique and rare material relating to women and the peace movement to Murdoch University.

(As Giles (1999) notes Greenwood publicly changed her date of birth to 1899 to coincide with the year that non-Indigenous women won the vote in Western Australia)


Published resources

  • Book
    • The Irene Greenwood Collection : a classified list of holdings in Murdoch University Library of material received from Irene Greenwood as of May 1986, Murdoch University. Library, 1986
    • First lust, Greenwood, Irene, 1973
    • Women on the warpath : feminist of the first wave, Davidson, Dianne, 1997
    • On air : the story of Catherine King and the ABC Women's Session, Lewis, Julie, 1925-2003, 1979
  • Thesis
    • The limits of authorship : the radio broadcasts of Irene Greenwood, 1936-1954, Richardson, John Andrew, 1988
    • Irene Greenwood: A Voice for Peace, Murray, K J F, 2002
  • Book Section
    • Irene Greenwood, Cornish, Diana, 1978
    • Greenwood, Irene, Caine, Barbara, 1998
  • Edited Book
    • Who's Who of Australian Women, Lofthouse, Andrea, 1982
  • Conference Paper
    • Irene Greenwood: 1899(sic)-1992, a hero of the feminist movement, Giles, Patricia, 1997
  • Journal Article
    • [Irene Greenwood - autobiography of feminist activist], 1992
    • [Irene Greenwood - obituaries for feminist and social activist], 1992
    • [Irene Greenwood - obituaries for feminist and social activist], 1992
    • [Irene Greenwood - obituaries for feminist and social activist], 1992
    • In Memoriam ; Irene Adelaide Greenwood 1992, Baldock, C V, 1993
    • Irene Greenwood; a hero of the feminist movement 1899-1992., Giles, Patricia, 1999
  • Newspaper Article
    • [Irene Greenwood - interview with W.A.'s leading feminist], 1987
    • Irene Greenwood - obituaries for feminist and social activist], 1992
    • [Newspaper article about Greenwood: relationship with Broome], 1984
    • [Newspaper article about Greenwood: hears anti-discrimination bill introduced], 1984
  • Resource Section
  • Resource

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Papers of Irene Greenwood, 1912-1981 [manuscript]
    • Papers of Jessie Street, circa 1914-1968 [manuscript]
    • Records of the Australian Federation of Women Voters, 1920-1983 [manuscript]
  • Murdoch University
    • The Irene Greenwood Collection
    • [Birthday party at Cockburn Sound]
    • [The Australian Bill of Rights]
    • Irene Greenwood talks to Robin Juniper
    • Irene Greenwood talks with Grant Stone
    • Irene Greenwood talks with Angela Douglass
    • [Irene Greenwood Library Resources Trust] : Food for Feminism Dinner, November 7th, 1986
    • [Irene Greenwood] [picture]
  • National Library of Australia
    • [Biographical cuttings on Irene Greenwood, containing one or more cuttings from newspapers or journals]
  • National Library of Australia, Oral History and Folklore Collection
    • Irene Greenwood interviewed by Hazel de Berg in the Hazel de Berg collection [sound recording]
  • State Library of Western Australia
    • [Interview with Irene Greenwood] [sound recording] / [interviewed by Nancy Lutton]
    • [Interview with Irene Greenwood] [sound recording] / [interviewed by Nancy Lutton].
    • Interview with Irene Greenwood] [sound recording] / [interviewed by Rica Erikson]
    • [Interview with Irene Greenwood] [sound recording] / [interviewed by Ken Spillman]
    • [Interview with Irene A. Greenwood] [sound recording] / [interviewed by Clive Moore]
    • [Interview with Mrs Irene Greenwood] [sound recording] / [interviewed by Gillian Waite].
    • [Interview with Irene Greenwood, feminist] [sound recording]
    • Women's Service Guilds of Western Australia records
  • Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection
    • Jean Fleming Arnot - personal and professional papers, 1890-1995
    • Lorelei Booker - papers, ca. 1890-1991
  • State Library of New South Wales
    • Irina Dunn papers, ca. 1980-1984, with papers collected relating to early feminists, 1873-1983

Related entries

  • Related Cultural Artefacts
    • Australian Women's Charter (1943 - )
  • Membership
    • Women's Electoral Lobby Australia (1972 - )
    • Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia
    • Western Australian Council for Equal Pay and Opportunity (1958 - 1973)
    • Women's Service Guilds of Western Australia (1909 - 1997)
    • Modern Women's Club (1938 - 1950)
    • Union of Australian Women. Western Australian Branch (1950 - 1973)
  • Vice President
    • Australian Federation of Women Voters (1921 - 1982)
  • Presided
    • Australian Federation of Women Voters (1921 - 1982)
  • Board Member
    • Australian Federation of Women Voters (1921 - 1982)
  • Related Women
    • Williams, Joan (1916 - 2008)
    • Cameron, Annette (1920 - 2008)
  • Member
    • Women's International League for Peace and Freedom - Western Australian Branch (1933 - )