In her shoes… 5 great articles to show your students on International Women’s Day (or any other day of the year!)

Today is an auspicious day in the calendar- International Women’s Day!

It’s a date which the VEC celebrates every year and is highly important to us as we recognise the importance to hearing everyone’s voice, especially those who are (or have been) often excluded from the conversation. The VEC values the voice of women, and today, we want to highlight some excellent resources which tell the stories of the amazing women who came before us and fought tirelessly for voting rights for women.

  1. The National Museum of Australia’s Defining Moments Article: Women’s Suffrage https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/womens-suffrage

With a focus on South Australia, the first colony (now state!) in Australia to offer women the franchise, this article provides excellent primary sources, engaging videos, and a great overview of how women fought for suffrage not only in South Australia, but across the nation. Significantly, SA was also the first electorate in Australia to enfranchise  Indigenous Australians when it granted all male British subjects the right to vote in 1856(although it must be noted that often, in practice, the vote was still denied to Indigenous men). Well done, South Australia!

This article is written specifically for young women and highlights the strength and tenacity of the suffragettes. It’s highly accessible and has lots of links to other sources which focus on specific women, the fight for Indigenous franchise, and fascinating primary sources all ripe for analysing!

This ABC article shines a light on the amazing actions of the little known Australian woman, Muriel Matters, who moved to London in 1905, and swiftly joined the movement urging the United Kingdom to follow in Australia’s footsteps and offer women the franchise. This article not only highlights the way that Australian women were instrumental in supporting the UK movement, but also explains the differences between the “suffragette” and “suffragist” movements. Your students are sure to find Muriel’s exploits fascinating, and the vitriol she endured mind boggling.

This article rightfully notes that despite its early enfranchisement of (white) women, Australia did not have a female elected representative until 1943, and highlights some of the amazing Australian women who have shaped our nation even though they did not sit in Parliament. This list highlights women who championed educational opportunities, racial equality, working rights and gender equality. These women represented perspectives across the political spectrum and their stories could be used as starting points for a number of historical inquiry projects, writing tasks, or research assignments.

Their answers include the need for more kindness, more acceptance, more safety and more intersectionality in the activist space – indicative perhaps of this generation’s commitment to civic engagement, and their desire to see a better future for everyone.

The Passport to Democracy team sees this demonstrated by young people every time we visit a school. The students we meet buck the accepted stereotype of ‘disengaged, disinterested youths’ instead, it seems to us, these students demonstrate a deep empathy, and a desire to see the world become a better, safer, more diverse and more balanced place.

Our incursions work to support this passion and help to give students the tools to further engage with the political world around them, and create the change they want to see in the world. Our incursions show students how to vote formally and why their preferences are important. Our resources explore examples of civic engagement and activism from the past, and help students make wise decisions about the different ways they can express their views on the various issues which matter to them in their own time.

We’d love to partner with your students, and with you, their committed teachers, to continue working towards a more engaged citizenry.

Get in contact with us today! Email us at education@vec.vic.gov.au or contact us by phone on 8620 1184.

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