Woman Tulip, Marie

Academic and Feminist theologian

Written by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University

Marie Tulip dates the change in her life to the late 1960s when she began reading the feminist texts emerging from America and saw their relevance to her own life. In 1968 she was one of the founders of Christian Women Concerned, the first explicitly religious feminist organisation to emerge in Australia. Initially members of the group went to speak at church women's organisations but they quickly came to realise that they needed to engage in a process of consciousness raising to clarify their ideas about identifying and overcoming the essential patriarchy of the Christian churches and devise ways of bringing about change. They disseminated their conclusions through a small publication, entitled Magdalen, for which Tulip was the editor. This role put her at the centre of efforts by this small but ecumenical group of feminist scholars who sought to articulate a Christian feminism in the Australian context.

In 1973 she was appointed co-ordinator of the New South Wales Council of Churches' Commission on the Status of Women, founded largely on the initiative of Jean Skuse. The Commission became the focus of an 'explosion of feminist activism and energy which lasted for almost two decades' (Tulip 2007, p. 23). Its conferences attracted women from across Australia, and its involvement with International Women's Year in 1975 injected a spiritual element into what had until then been a very secular women's movement. Writing, hopefully, in 1980 she declared: 'The mission of women may be threefold: to bring to women the good news that they may indeed have life if they have the courage to claim it; to bring to men the good news that they may have life if they have the power to give up their power and privilege; and to bring to the church the good news that the kingdom can be reborn as the new community, where with trust and tenderness and real sharing we enable ourselves and one another to discover our full humanity (Tulip 1980. p. 142).

In her professional career Tulip taught courses in feminism and religion at the University of Sydney. Her book, Knowing Otherwise: Feminism, Women and Religion, written jointly with Erin White, brought the substance of those courses to a wider audience and was acclaimed as a major contribution to feminist theology in Australia. She was also a member of the National Women's Consultative Council, which was established in 1984 and played an important role in the promotion of women's issues during the Hawke Labor Government. In 2013 she was living in retirement in Sydney.

Published Resources


  • Tulip, Marie and Australian Council of Churches. New South Wales State Council. Commission on the Status of Women, Women in a man's church: changes in the status of women in the Uniting Church in Australia, 1977-1983, Commission on the Status of Women of the Australian Council of Churches (NSW), Sydney, New South Wales, 1983. Details
  • White, Erin and Tulip, Marie, Knowing otherwise: feminism, women and religion, David Lovell Publishing, Melbourne, Victoria, 1991. Details

Journal Articles

  • Tulip, Marie, 'Women and the kingdom', International Review of Mission, vol. 69, no. 274, 1980, pp. 135-42. Details
  • Tulip, Marie, 'The good old days of activism', Women-Church, vol. 40, 2007, pp. 22-24. Details

See also