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Everyone’s Got a Story | Remembering Edith Cowan 100-years on

Article image for Everyone’s Got a Story | Remembering Edith Cowan 100-years on

Next Friday will mark 100-years since the first female was elected to Australian parliament.

Edith Dircksey Cowan lived a remarkable life, but how much do you actually know about the woman who appears on the Australian $50 note?

Founder of the Edith Dircksey Cowan Commemoration , Hilary Silbert, reflected on her legacy with 6PR’s Steve Mills on Everyone’s Got a Story ahead of commemorations next week.

“She had an amazing knowledge and she was very well read,” she said.

Cowan suffered a traumatic childhood, but learnt to overcome adversity from a young age.

Her mother died during childbirth in 1868 when Edith was only seven, and her father was convicted of murder, after he shot his new wife in a “drunken rage”.

“Edith then not only had a mother who died when she was seven, but a father who was hung when she was 15.”

She married John Cowan when she was 18 and was a passionate advocate for women’s rights.

“She fought for woman officers in the court … she became one of the first woman JPs … she fought very hard for women to have proper maternity care trained midwives.”

At the age of 59 she became the first woman to be elected to parliament, as a member of the nationalist party.

Next week a number of commemorations will be held in her honour, including displays at the State Library, and school assemblies.

Click play to hear more on Millsy at Midday. 

(Photo: Getty Images.) 

Steve Mills
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