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International Women’s Day in Melbourne
8th March – Our story


Here is some material I have collected from
Women Working Together suffrage and onwards www.womenworkingtogether.com.au

It is also available from us in A5 booklet form with pictures,

Geraldine 03 9486 1808 womensweb1@gmail.com

Preamble / 1934 / 1948 / 1949 / 1950 / 1951 / 1953 / 1954 / 1950's - 1960's / 1965 / 1972 / 1973 / 1974 / 1975 / 1977 / 1979 / 1980 ANTI WOMAN GROUPS INTERVENE in IWD / 1981 / 1982 / 1983 / Woman is Moving - Glen Tomasetti


‘Women have never had their rights given to them; they have had to gain them through struggle and revolt. This is the essence of the commemoration of International Women's Day.

In Australia, one of the first struggles by women against their exploitation were those waged at the Female Factory at Parramatta. The women were transported convicts confined at the factory and used by their employers as domestics, factory workers and for sexual pleasure.

Conditions in the factory were atrocious with women being starved to render them submissive to the barbaric restrictions imposed on them, and it was this that precipitated the great riot and escape at the factory in 1827 -

"The Amazonian inmates amounting to 700 or 800 rose upon the guards and turnkeys and made a desperate attempt at escape by burning the building.

The officer commanding the troops then occupying the stockade sent a subaltern with 100 men, half of them armed with only sticks, and an effort was made to drive the fair insurgents within one of the yards, in order to secure them.

They laughed at the cane-carrying soldiers, refuting their argumentum baculinum by a fierce charge upon the gates in which one man was knocked over by a brick bat from Mrs Ajax. The military were reinforced, the magistrate made them load with ball-cartridge and the desperados were eventually subdued.

This unladylike ebullition was considered, I am assured, the most formidable outbreak that ever occurred in the Colony, not even excepting that of Castle Hill in the year 1804! I believe that close-cropping of the women's hair was the prime cause of the outbreak." Lieutenant Colonel Godfrey Charles Mundy. Our Antipodes London 1852"

It was later in the USA, however, that the significance of IWD germinated. On March 8 1908, for the first time in American history, women garment workers marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay, and improved working conditions at the factory.

They were met by a hostile constabulary force who savagely beat them and arrested many of the women.

The American women's agitation and protests over sweatshop conditions were not heeded until a shirt factory on New York's Lower East Side caught fire, killing several women and injuring others.

AGAINST GOD - Now the organizing of women workers spread rapidly.

Two International Ladies Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) shops in New York and Philadelphia struck in Sept. 1909.

Thirty two thousand workers joined the strike. Throughout a cold winter these women picketed, held mass meetings and built their union, sometimes at a rate of 1,000 a day.

Again the picket lines were attacked by police and there were dozens of arrests. The courts were not sympathetic.

One judge informed a striker: "You are on strike against God and Nature, whose prime law is that man shall earn his bread in the sweat of his brow. You are on strike against God."

At the same in England, women were vigorously demanding the vote. They saw the connection between poor working conditions, low wages and their lack of political power.

The cry became "Rise Up Women", and their tactics to introduce social change ranged from working in the countryside to defeat the Liberal Party, to marches on Parliament, and hunger strikes.

The punishment and cruelty that was dealt to protesting women was unprecedented in British history.

"One thing is certain" said Christobel Pankhurst, "there can be no going back for us, and more will happen if we do not get justice".

RISING MILITANCY - Throughout the world the first decade of the twentieth century saw a rising struggle and militancy among women, demanding their rights. Every defeat only served to make them more determined.

It was the courage and inspiration given by the women garment workers of America that led to a meeting of 100 women from 17 countries in 1910 in Copenhagen to resolve that March 8 should be in future celebrated as an IWD holiday throughout the world.

Since that time women of the world have united in their cities on March 8 to pay tribute to our feminist forebears and to reinforce the solidarity and struggle for women's equality and self determination.
Sally Mendes papers Melbourne University archives

And: ‘These feminists broadened out, learning about, using, and including other aspects of the women's movement here and internationally - the International Garment Workers' Union demonstration in the US and the unions women formed here such as the Domestic Workers Union and the Tailoresses' Union which met in the Female Operatives' Hall at Trades Hall.’ Kay Hargreaves

’First organised celebration of women in Australia took place in the 1930's. Earlier recognition had been confined to declarations in “Workers Weekly” and to individual efforts by progressive women.

Then a march through Melbourne streets on March 8, 1931, heralded annual celebrations of IWD.’
IWD Victorian Branch papers

I swear to you, / I swear on my common woman's head. / The common woman is as common as a loaf of bread / and will rise.anon


Melbourne 1934

‘The Melbourne rally in 1934 was marked for its concern about Aboriginal rights, and Aboriginal activist, Anna Morgan, speaking at the rally, denounced

“the black flag of the Aboriginal Protection Board”

and called for legal changes and access to social welfare.' Joyce Stevens

‘In the early 1970's Doris McRae wrote a short history of IWD in Melbourne. Here she noted that Melbourne's first large, mainstream celebration was held in 1945 at a time when there were

"great hopes of a rapid break-through to greater, if not full, equality of women, building on improvement in wage conditions during the war."

The re-establishment of International Women's Day was spearheaded by the Women's Christian Temperance Union, she said, and in particular two of its officials, Ada Brougham and Isobel McOrkindale.

 "The first meeting exemplified the co-operation existing between most sections of the community at the time".

The speaker was Mrs Herbert Brookes, daughter of Alfred Deakin, who was at that time the president of the National Council of Women. She provided what Doris McRae described as a "masterly survey of the women's movement". Cheryl Griffin

‘The League of Women Voters came into being with the merger in August 1945 of the Victorian Women Citizens Movement, the League of Women Electors and Women for Canberra.

At the time they were concerned about peace, the United Nations and were involved in International Women's Day.’ Amelia Walford

1948 IWD

‘The theme was peace. Women around the world were asked to send messages “as there was considerable war hysteria in Australia at present” and many were received, including from Madame Sun Yet-Sen from Shanghai.

This is an example of a letter sent to organisations and women who donated to IWD:

“State Secretary, Builders Labourers Federation, 35 Victoria Street, Melbourne to The IWD Committee, 7th Floor 167 Collins St Melbourne 30 March 1948

Dear Sir, We enclose herewith official receipt ... we wish to thank you most sincerely ...

You will be interested to learn that this year's celebration was the most successful we have yet held. We had a capacity house and a further two hundred people were unable to gain admittance.

The meeting passed a resolution asking our Committee to arrange a deputation to Dr Evatt asking him to raise at UNO the question of placing an embargo on the export of arms.

We are at present awaiting advice from Dr Evatt as to when he could receive this deputation, and as soon as a date has been fixed, we will advise you in the hope that you will be able to be represented on the deputation.”
International Women's Day papers

'The 1948 IWD Committee included President Mrs E Pethridge, Secretary Miss R Smethurst, Assistant Sec Mrs P Eden, Treasurer Mrs D Monsbourgh. Committee: Mrs F Williams, (Society of Friends); Mrs M B Wollaston (Unitarian Church); Mrs Dwyer (Association of Creches); Miss E Nesbit (League of Women Voters); Mrs D Nankivell (Status of Women Council); Mrs M Mayall (Aust-Soviet House); Mrs G Cameron (Federal Clerks' union); Miss L Savage (Opportunity Clubs for boys and girls); Mrs E Rothfield (Nat. Council of Jewish Women); Mrs E Pethyridge; (Aust. Women's Charter Committee); Miss H Bridger (Women's Branch of the Victorian Teachers' Union); Miss R Smethurst (Women's Committee Aust. Communist Party); Mrs E Hampton (War Widows and Widowed Mothers Assn.); Mrs P Eden (Editorial Board Aust Women's Digest); Miss V Bonner (Eureka Youth League); Miss Anderson (Business & Professional Women's Club); Mrs Z Lees (Clothing Trade Union); Day Nurseries Development Assn; Italia Libera; Albanian Assn; Madame E Lorton Campbell; Miss D McRae; Mrs Chesterfield; Miss E Hedger; Mrs D Monsbrough; Mrs Harrard (Friends of Democratic Austria); Mr J Downey - Tramway Employees union.' International Women's Day papers___________________________________________________________________

Then, in 1949

Public Meeting, Assembly Hall, Collins Street, Monday 7 March 1949 8pm Mrs Jessie Street speaker.

Jessie Street had just returned from her work as Australia's delegate to the United Nations Status of Women Commission and was in Melbourne the main speaker. Her talk was called “The Women of Europe and their Work for Peace”.

(Weapons manufacturers) say the best defence for peace is to prepare for war. It is certainly a good slogan for them. They have a tremendous lot of money, sending tanks, guns etc to all sorts of people.’ Jessie Street

And: ‘We believe that the building up of weapons of war constitutes the gravest menace to world peace and living standards, and therefore call upon our Federal Government to give support for the proposals of the Soviet Union submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation for the outlawing of the atom bomb and bacteriological warfare and for one third reduction in armaments by all member countries, and to any other proposals that will lead to total disarmament.’ Draft Resolution

To IWD - The need of today is for unity ... Unity is one of the first steps in the direction of world-peace. And deliberate action and careful thought must be opposed to the present spate of war-mongering. If those present at tonight's meeting are sincere they must give untiring work for a better world.’ Doris Blackburn_________________________________________________________________

By 1950

‘International Women's Day 1950 - Assembly Hall, Collins Street, Melbourne, “Think About Peace, Talk of Peace, Work for Peace” Lesbian News March/April 1988

‘... by the early 1950's International Women's Day "the loss of the spirit of unity, and the growth of the Cold War led to drop-outs ... some women wanted to distance themselves from the more direct and provocative approach of left-wing organisations such as the Union of Australian Women.

Doris McRae said that “calls for crèches, kindergartens, children's playgrounds, youth clubs as well as peace were looked on as Red”. (Doris's underlining)’
Cheryl Griffin

Letter to the International Women's Day organizing committee, to Mrs D Irwin, Secretary, IWD Committee c/- Women's Christian Temperance Union -

"You have probably read the report in today's Argus of the dismissal of about a hundred women from the GPO Mail Branch, and the deputation of these women to Mr Calwell on Tuesday morning.

At the deputation I was asked by some of the girls to contact women's organisations, and I said that I would contact the IWD Committee on their behalf, as being representative of many women's organisations, and would place before you their case.

Last May there were approx. three hundred women in the mail branch. The Dept. has employed women in this branch since 1942 in what, till then, had been regarded as a male job. Over this period the women have proven their ability and efficiency in the carrying out of their duties.

With the Governments retrenchment policy, the Department commenced last May to dismiss married women. The dismissal notices were handed out in batches of 8, 20 or 30 over a period of several months.

On November 30th the last of the married women left the mail branch, many of them with children to support, having been deserted by their husbands, but not being able to produce divorce papers.

On New Year's Eve about a hundred single women and widows received notice to take effect on Jan 21st - the excuse being that this was a man's job, and for the first time in ten years, men were applying for positions as mail officers.

These women feel that the exchange of one group of unemployed for another group is no solution to the unemployment problem, and maintain that they have an equal right with men to a job, and that those who are already employed should retain their jobs.

A petition has been sent to Dr Evatt and copies to Mr Calwell, Senator Anthony and Mr Cain. Also, the abovementioned deputation. The girls are expressing a wish for organisations for women, and the assistance of women's organisations in their struggles.

Could you please place this letter before the committee for their consideration, requesting a reply to the above address? Also, contact with any other organisations represented on your Committee who would write with us on the issue of equality and full employment would be of great assistance. Yours ...”
Joan E Basquil, GPO Mail Branch deputation

In 1951 Edith Hedger and Louise Walford as Hon Secretary and assistant secretary respectively with Doris Blackburn ex MHR as President (all League members) of the International Women's Day Committee called an all day conference.

The final paragraph of the main resolution:

“We, the women of Australia, call upon the Australian Government to urge the UN to convene a special World Conference of Women, representing every nation and, irrespective of the legal status of women in the various lands, to consider steps which can be taken in the urgent matter of world disarmament and prevention of war.”
League of Women Voters Newsletter___________________________________________________________________________

Then, in 1953

Peace, job security and equality for Aboriginal people were the themes.

Proposals were:

Australian Aborigines –

‘This meeting of Melbourne citizens celebrating IWD, March 10, 1953, expresses strong disapproval of the policy of inequality adopted towards Australian Aborigines.

We call upon both the State Govt. and the Federal Govt.

(a) to institute research and enquiry into the best methods of educating and preparing Aborigines to enjoy political, educational and social equality.

(b) to institute a fund to enable Aboriginal students to reach secondary standards and to pass on to the universities.

(c) to provide a social environment which gives an incentive which makes study meaningful and worthwhile; and

(d) to extend to Aborigines the same rights to old age pensions as are given to other citizens.’ State Library of Victoria IWD papers___________________________________________________________________________

I couldn’t resist putting in this disgraceful response from the Chief Secretary, Old Treasury Building, Spring St Melbourne:

‘Mrs D Irwin, Hon Sec IWD Committee, c/- WCTU, Centreway, Collins Street M.C1 1st May 1953

Dear Mrs Irwin,

I am in receipt of your letter of the 29th ultimo regarding the economic position of aboriginal women.

No doubt the resolution was intended to apply to Australia as a whole. In Victoria there are today very few aborigines, the total number, so far as is known, not exceeding thirty in all.

All aborigines and those of mixed blood have full civil rights in this State, and, so far as the State law is concerned, they are not legally debarred from receiving any benefit available to the ordinary citizen. They are entitled to vote at all State elections; the compulsory provisions of the Education Act apply to their children, and any child who gives sufficient promise and qualifies is entitled to the same privileges of secondary education as any other child; whilst hospital and other social benefits are available to them in the same way as to white people.

It is within my knowledge that children of mixed blood have attended secondary schools with success, but teachers who have taught these children in groups have reported that, whilst they attain average results to about the fourth grade standard, thereafter their attention wanders and they are anxious to leave school, and in this they are frequently encouraged by their parents.

The majority of these people live the life of ordinary citizens, and you will appreciate that their actions cannot be restricted to any greater extent than that of any other citizen. Efforts are made to help and advise them, but they cannot be compelled to accept such assistance.

However, I feel that you should know that in this State no restrictions are placed on these people in any way.’ State Library of Victoria IWD papers

‘To IWD from Premier John Cain -

"... On 23rd March 1953 the Victorian Cabinet approved of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value and agreed to the ratification by the Commonwealth of the (UN) Convention dealing with this matter, and the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service, Melbourne, was advised accordingly." State Library of Victoria IWD papers

'Wage Reductions for Women –

"This meeting of Melbourne men and women gathered to celebrate IWD March 10th 1953 endorses the principle of equal occupational rates for men and women and registers its emphatic protest against proposed reductions in present rates of pay for women which:

(a) would lower their living standards and reduce their purchasing power, and

(b) would promote a pool of cheap labour and constitute a threat to men's employment ..

It calls upon all organisations to protect women's rates of pay by urging the Federal Govt. and all State Govt's to intervene in the case at present before the Arbitration Court in order to oppose the reduction in women's wages sought by employers."

Another issue was Peace –

'In view of

(1) the world's grave need for better production and more equitable distribution

(2) the terrible threat of global war

(3) the struggle of Asian people to develop and govern their own country without foreign domination and exploitation

(4) the present devastation in Korea

(5) Australia's need for men and women able and willing to shape a domestic and foreign policy leading to international co-operation and peace:

WE CALL upon all men and women of goodwill to exercise to the utmost their spiritual and mental powers, and to work together in a spirit of mutual tolerance for these aims:

1. An immediate armistice in Korea

2. The cessation of war propaganda

3. That money and materials now being used for war preparations should be directed towards meeting the basic needs of human beings.

WE CALL on our Federal Govt. to press for a special meeting of the five great powers with the aim of signing a pact of peace.

Government to urge the United Nations to convene a special world conference of women, representing every nation and irrespective of the legal status of women, in their respective lands, to consider the steps which can be taken in the urgent matter of world disarmament and prevention of war.

That the IWD Committee organise a Peace Conference of Victorian women.’
IWD papers State Library of Victoria

‘The Wonthaggi Miners' Women's Auxilliary have asked me to write to you regarding the IWD Committee meeting to be held on Thursday Mav 12. We are unanimously with you in your action for peace.

We regret (we cannot send anyone), but as we may be able to send a person on March 8th, if you could tell us of your meetings decisions, we could work together for the celebrations next year. I remain, ... ’
Lyn Chambers, 'November 9 1953

In 1954 peace was again an issue

'The results of the American hydrogen bomb tests in the Pacific have shocked the world. This bomb has 2,000 times the power of the atom bomb that razed Hiroshima.

Australian mothers feel particularly alarmed at the effect any future tests in the Pacific could have within our continent. Dr Evatt has warned

"The damage and injury caused by the (first) explosion is a solemn warning to mankind, and of very direct importance to Australia" ...

Dame Edith Lyons has warned

"We can no longer leave this in the hands of governments".

Well, our demands are simple:

1. No more hydrogen or atom bomb tests here or in the Pacific.

2. Ban all horror weapons ...

Let's use our view as women to get a return to sanity –

"We, the undersigned, ask that the dangerous Hydrogen Bomb tests be cancelled and that, through the United Nations, further efforts be made to ban all atomic weapons. Signed …”
Union of Australian Women leaflet

'In 1954 there were speakers on Britain, Israel and China.

In 1958, although the general topic was The Awakening of the Asian Woman, speakers from India and Israel alternated with discussion on the growing campaign for equal pay...

By the end of the decade members of the ALP Women's Organising Committee, the WCTU, WILPF and the Aborigines' Advancement League attended the celebrations.' Suzanne Fabian, Morag Loh, Left Wing Ladies Hyland House 2000

Between the mid 1950's and the mid 1960's the Women's Movement was quiet, although conditions for women were not good.

Their average wage was just two thirds of that men received. Their lives were mainly private, individual affairs. They were expected to live through their families.

What brought many women together again was the French nuclear tests in the Pacific - 1964 International Women's Day slogan:  'Protect Children - Stop French Tests'_

In 1965

'Issues were

- prices and wages (opposing the "total wage" principle);

- equal pay;

- adequate universal education;

- Lake Tyers (condemns closure and demands Aboriginal people be given land tenure. Condemns past and present policies of successive State and Fed Governments and demands equal wages be paid to all Aboriginal workers);

- Negro civil rights (support and encourage);

- Nuclear disarmament (work to eliminate French tests, support French women opposing tests);

- SE Asia (enduring peaceful relations);

- Conscription:

“This gathering of citizens on IWD ... in solidarity and friendship with women throughout the world, strongly deplore Australian Govt legislation for compulsory military service for Australian youths as a grave threat to peace and goodwill between Australia and the peoples of Asia.

We therefore believe a referendum should be taken before any youths are conscripted for overseas service.”

That the IWD Committees in the various States be approached to co-operate in organising demonstrations and deputations to protest against the Conscription Bill and to ask for a referendum.’
1965 Leaflet

The next I found was in 1972

9 am City leafleting by Women's Liberation groups.
10 am Assemble at the city square for street theatre and literature and counselling stands conducted by special project groups - child care; abortion law reform; equal pay; feminist teachers; sex education.
10.30 am Speakers and Singing:

CHAIRPERSON: Bon Hull (Women's Action Centre)
SPEAKERS: Jill Jolliffe (Women's Liberation - What Is It All About?);
Speaker to be advised;
Joan Goodwin (Women and Education);
Sheila Wynn (Aboriginal Law Reform).
SINGERS: Glen Tomasetti and Margaret Roadknight.

Assemble for march to proceed around city block and finally to Treasury Gardens. Here festivities will continue - stands, street theatre, singers and speakers.
SPEAKERS: Winsome Mc Caughey (Child Care);
Zelda D'Aprano (Equal Pay - one value for the job).

A free crèche will be available throughout the demonstration for the children of people wishing to participate. It will be held at 208 Little Lonsdale St City and will be open from 9.30 am Ring ...
8 pm  A party will be held on the evening of March 11 at 18 Newland St Caulfield. Admission will be $1 per head, BYOG, supper provided. Proceeds to March Action Campaign. Friends and supporters of Women's Liberation welcome. Authorised by Women's March Action Campaign, 290 Rathdowne St Carlton_
_______ ____________________________________________________________________

1973 IWD

‘Union of Australian Women's International Women's Day Celebration Methodist Church Centre

Speaker will be Mrs A A Blake, Llb, member of the UN Association of the Australian Committee on Racism and Racial Discrimination.

Her subject will be "The Work of the UN in Combating Discrimination Against Women".
Donation 70 cents, Pensioners 40 cents.

IWD had its biggest celebrations for many years (last year) - with a rally in the city square and a 2,000 strong march thru' the streets.

UAW, Women's Liberation, the Women's Electoral Lobby and other groups took part and the UAW also had a luncheon with Geraldine Briggs telling us of the double discrimination facing her people as both woman and Aborigine.

This year a public "Speak Out" is planned as well as a march, and the UAW has been asked to provide a history of this day - we will also distribute a leaflet at the march.’ UAW Newsletter

And the march?  ‘On Saturday the tenth of March, three thousand women turned up to march, sing and chant their way through the streets of Melbourne, demanding an end to their oppression and exploitation.’
Vashti's Voice July 1973


The next year, 1974

‘Friday March 8th Stop Work Meeting 2pm City Square,
Saturday March and Rally 10.30am City Square followed by picnic. March 11 am, Rally 10 - 3 March 12 Carlton Gardens.

We demand:

- Economic independence

- Free quality health care for all

- Social responsibility for child care

- A woman's right to control her own body

- A stop to all oppression of lesbian women

- No police brutality against Aboriginal women

- An end to sexist education, policy and practice.’

'This year IWD in Melbourne was well organised and good fun. About 2,500 were in the Square to hear speakers and see part of the Pram Factory's review "Women's Weekly".

Adriana's speech (excerpt):

‘It's more than just the basic reforms such as repeal of the abortion laws, free child-minding centres, equal pay with minimum wage for women, and no discrimination in education and employment opportunities that women's liberationists seek.

We seek an entire dissolution of those structures and those people that place women into a particular role in life; that predetermine what the definition of a woman is and what her place and function in society will be.

This society's attitudes towards women have to be revolutionized.

To expose the sexist attitudes towards women, is to engage in the process of demolishing the old attitudes and creating the new - this is our struggle of liberation.' Vashti’s Voice 1974

‘In Melbourne, Australia, on March 8, 1975, International Women's Day, 1,000 women marched down city streets.

Members representing many women's organisations carried banners and shouted slogans.

The march was preceded by an all-woman play performed at the City Square.’

‘A unique program in Australian broadcasting will start on International Women's Day (March 8 1975) on ABVC Radio 2.

It is the Coming Out, Ready or Not show, a program made entirely by women, though intended for all listeners.

It is being made by the Australian Women's Broadcasting Co-Operative, an organisation set up with the ABC to give all female staff the opportunity to learn the techniques of broadcasting.

The Co-operative has had an overwhelming response from people who might otherwise have found themselves "jammed behind a typewriter", without an opportunity of developing their talent.

ABC production secretary Roberta Meilleur has written and sings the theme song ...
The first show is a magazine style program with Gillian Waite. Melbourne Alex Butler talks to a woman on a factory picket line - what does it take to come out and refuse to be sacked?  

In another segment Kate Miller and Janet Bell cover International Women's Year activities –
Is one year enough?

What are women doing with it?

The second program, The Heroines, is a dramatised radio feature by Eve Gray on Miles Franklin's heroines - young women ahead of their time ...'
Leaflet Women's Liberation papers University of Melbourne


'Planning 1977 IWD March – the general consensus was that we should be organizing small radical actions rather than a march ...

Now, how do you feel about not having a march?

Do you feel as these women do, that they will not get out on the streets on IWD unless the specifications match up to personal requirements? ...

As I see it the field is wide open to those who would feel the loss of a march to organise one ...' Kathie Gleeson Women's Liberation papers University of Melbourne  

There was a march, with the theme:

'Stop Fraser's War on Women - This year in Melbourne women have much to protest about.

We Demand -

Economic independence for women
- women's right to paid work
- a shorter working week with no less pay
- unemployment benefits for married women.

That Social Services constitute a living income
- stop victimisation of women for feminist views.

Free quality health care for all
- funds for alternative health care services
- nationalize the drug companies.

Social responsibility for child care - recognition of children's rights as individuals - access to free child care, at all hours.

A woman's right to control her body
- repeal all abortion laws
- freely available and safe contraception
- freely available and safe abortion.

A woman's right to choose
- no coerced abortion
- no forced sterilisation.

A stop to all oppression of lesbian women
- custody rights for lesbian mothers
- no discrimination for sexual preference.

An end to the exploitation of migrant women
- English taught as the boss's time.

No police brutality against black women
- repeal the Queensland Acts

Land rights for Aborigines.

An end to sexist policy and practice
- restore and improve educational opportunities for women.

Put men on trial for rape, not women.'
Melbourne IWD Committee


The theme was international -

‘Dear Friend,

As the halfway mark of the International Women's Decade approaches we see many of the gains made in 1975 being whittled away by a conservative government and the worsening economic situation, with married women in the workforce being seen as the scapegoat for youth unemployment.

Similar situations exist in many countries overseas, and there is a need for women to fight to keep what gains have been made, which is the theme for International Women's Day 1979.’
Bette Olle

Sun 9/3/1979: 'Shooting as Iranian Women Protest, Tehran, Thursday AAP - Iran's revolutionary forces today fired into the air to disperse about 15,000 women protesting outside Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan's office on International Women's Day.

Witnesses said thousands of women scattered in panic as volleys of gunfire rang out, but no injuries were reported.

The demonstrators had marched to Mr Bazargan's office through heavy snow, shouting
"death to dictatorship" to protest against the increasingly strict Islamic character being given to the Iranian revolution.

They declared they would not wear the black Moslem Chador (cloak or veil) imposed on female civil servants by religious leader Ayatollah Khomeiny.' Zelda D'Aprano papers


‘Speaking Rights of the 'Right' -

Motion passed by the IWD March Committee, and given consensus support by the Women's Liberation General Meeting, 17 February 1980:

‘That individuals representing the
Right to Life Association (RtoL),
Women's Action Alliance (WAA),
Women Who Want to be Women (WWWW),
or with similar views,
will not be given speaking rights
(ie any platform to put their views)
at the International Women's Day demonstration
because they oppose
an equal role for women at work,
in the family and
in the community,
the right of women to control their lives
and their bodies,
through to rights for lesbians,
women's refuges and
Women's Liberation Newsletter

‘The Anti-Feminists - For feminists, IWD has been a struggle for our liberation.

We oppose the participation of groups such as WAA because their aims are directly opposed to the liberation of women.

The WAA and its offshoot, WWWW, have been establishes specifically to sabotage the work of the Women's Liberation Movement.

Simply because these groups claim to represent women does not legitimise the conservative and often reactionary politics they uphold.

Their strategy is one of defusing the Women's Liberation Movement and destroying the gains made by feminists.

For example –

1. By establishing a “pregnancy aid” centre, a few doors down from the Fertility Control Centre, to harass and prevent women from seeking abortion, contraception or sterilization advice. (Right to Life Association)

2. Sponsoring a “Women and the Family Conference” to reinforce the Right to Life Association's traditional and oppressive role of women as merely wives and mothers. (Women's Action Alliance)

3. Organising a “Total Child Care Conference” which hysterically attacked homosexuals as “child molesters”, and promoted family child care in opposition to community child care. (Festival of Light)

4. Establishing a women's bureau in Australia's largest union, the Shop Assistant's Union, to, in their own words, “wreck progressive work by women in unions” (Conference of the National Civic Council, Victoria 1978).

This meant that the union now supports “homemakers' allowance”, and opposes community based child care.

These few examples indicate the basic opposition of these groups to the liberation of women.
As feminists we must organise against such opposition, but forcibly preventing these groups from distributing leaflets at the IWD rally is not the way to fight political attacks.

Any group has the right to produce and distribute its own material.

If members of right-wing groups such as WAA, WWWW, the Right to Life Association or the Festival of Light are present at this International Women's Day rally, their participation should be clearly distinguished as a counter-demonstration which opposes the historical origins and the present aims of International Women's Day.

Authorised by: Lesley Podesta, Amanda Biles, Dominica Whelan, Karina Veal, Penny Farrer, Duggie Silins, Rigmor Berg, Isabells Martinas, Sue Russell, Jennifer Lee, Joanna Rea. Judy's Punch

'Anti-women groups intervene in International Women's Day (IWD) planning –

The first meeting of the feminist-convened IWD committee was held on Wednesday 30 July with long time activist Marj Oke in the chair.

Publicity had mysteriously found its way into the Age, against the express wish of the organisers, and the result was the attendance of women from 'Women Who Want to be Women (WWWW') and other anti-woman groups.' Women's Liberation Newsletter August 1980



‘IWD had as its themes -

- Women in economic crisis

- Women and unemployment

- Women under economic stress

- Domestic violence

- Women's labour and its effects on their health.'

‘IWD 1981 Workshop Discussions –

The Women and Labour Conference discussion group is organising a day of workshop discussions as part of the International Women's Day activities.

These will be held Sunday 8th March at the Women's Building, 113 Rosslyn Street West Melbourne, 10.30am to 5.00pm.

The workshop-discussions will examine the current experiences of women in the economic crisis.
A number of issues will be discussed including: women and unemployment, women and poverty, domestic violence, and childcare.

These workshops will consider the conditions of women in all age groups, Aboriginal women, migrant women, married women, students, and women in paid employment.

Childcare is available. The $2 charge covers tea/coffee/childcare/rental’
Lesbian Newsletter No 29 Jan '80 


‘ ... women from Canberra send the following message to the Melbourne women of the World Bike Ride for Peace, Disarmament and a Nuclear Free Future:

"Solidarity to women who wish to see government funds and the earth's resources directed to human support rather than human destruction!

We welcome, as the saying goes, the day that health, education and childcare are fully funded whilst the Admirals have to hold a laming ton drive or stall to buy their next submarine.
We also remember Karen Silkwood, murdered by imperialist warmongers.

Equality of the sexes will bring peace, the end of capitalism, and end to the rape of the earth ...
So let's take the toys from the boys!"
Jenny Rimmer  


‘The Wimmin's Liberation Group will celebrate IWD on March 8th by having 24 hours of non-stop Wimmins radio on 3CR ...’ Lesbian Newsletter Feb.Mar.'83

'Leave it up to the women to break the drought! – With clothes plastered to bodies, over 500 women made it to the Treasury Gardens after marching through city streets under what was the heaviest spit from the clouds above that Melbourne has seen in ages.

The rally and march were organised in a short space of time thanks to the initiative of a small group of women.

Various speakers spoke at the rally on topics such as Childcare, the International Year of the Lesbian, Young Women, Unionism and Disabled Women ...

(Performers were) the "Greta Garbo's" ...
"3CR Live to Air Concert" etc.

At the Kingston Hotel were Judy Small and “Synergy” (perhaps you are familiar with their recording “Union Maid”! Jenny Tatchell papers

'Women for Nuclear Disarmament - There will be a Women's Picnic for Peace on Sunday March 6th as part of the 1983 IWD celebrations.

The picnic will be held in the Fitzroy Gardens, near the Mercy Hospital, from 1pm and will continue throughout the afternoon ... Contact: Linda Smith, Judy Barclay.’ Jan - Feb Women's Liberation Newsletter

Woman is Moving - Glen Tomasetti

Woman is moving, woman is moving (repeat).
Won't be quiet for a silver dollar / Won't be quiet for a diamond collar
Don't believe in the sin of Eve
Don't want to be a doll in a painted face / Don't think man is God 'cause he flies in space

How many more babies will we bear into air they cannot breathe
While he makes cars and plastic trees?
Won't leave the world to aging boys / Playing with their dreadful toys
To a bitter end, there's a fitter end and we move.

So much more to do than please / Down from the pedestal, up from the knees
Man taught woman her job is to mother his heirs / Keep him erect, his socks in pairs
While he conducts the world's affairs / To a bitter end, there's a fitter end, woman is moving.

Don't want to ride in a bullock wagon / Don't want to hide in a Chinese dragon

Not going to walk along behind / A loaded gun and an empty head
The phallic thump makes a rubbish dump / To a bitter end, there's a fitter end, woman is moving.

No more hidden tears, no more hidden rage / Woman starts to disengage from all
But a few men, back, come, back, come, back, come, go, come, go come

From a bitter end, there's a fitter end, and we move
IWD circulars 1972-1973