The A-Z Blogging Challenge commences on the 1st of April and I’m contemplating whether or not to participate. For those unfamiliar with this Challenge the idea is to select a theme and then every day of the month except Sunday post something pertaining to the topic starting with A on Day 1, proceeding right through the alphabet to Z.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. Regular posts are a challenge in themselves, at least for me, and you need to have a theme that retains interest.
Last year I celebrated some powerful Australian women, women who have achieved in so many different ways. This year I’m thinking a subject less heavy, more fun, though preferably still promoting Australia.
I’m still in contact with some of the bloggers from last years Challenge and talk about a diverse range of interests. I gained an education in folk stories, crystals, music, country towns and dogs all because I became involved.
Here’s a quick poll. If I participate what do you think would be the more interesting topic?
Zelda D’Aprano (nee Orloff) grew up in a two-bedroom house in Carlton, Victoria, in an Orthodox Jewish household, with two siblings and working class, migrant parents.
She left school before she was 14 to work in various factories to support her family. Married at 16 to Charlie D’Aprano, who left her 21 years later, Zelda had a daughter at 17. In 1961 she fully qualified as a dental nurse and completed her Leaving Certificate in 1965, at the same time as her daughter. She attended night school for two years graduating in 1967 as a qualified chiropodist.
It was whilst employed in factory jobs that Zelda first started to notice the inequalities that female workers faced, especially related to the pay gap.
Whilst working at a Psychiatric Hospital as a dental nurse Zelda joined the Hospital Employees’ Federation No.2 Branch, where she was made shop steward in charge of all female dental nurses, though she had little support due to her gender. In 1969 she went to join the Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Union (AMIEU), to work in a clerical position where she was appalled by the conditions in the office, and even more so after discovering that there was nowhere to air her grievances.
During that year the AMIEU was being used as a test case for the Equal Pay Case and Zelda and several other women waited as the case was being decided in the Arbitration Court. In October 1969, after the case failed, she chained herself to the doors of the Commonwealth Building alongside women who worked in the building supporting her, eventually being cut free by police. Ten days later, she was joined by Alva Geikie and Thelma Solomon, and they chained themselves to the doors of the Arbitration Court, the one which had dismissed the Equal Pay Case. For this activism Zelda was dismissed from the AMIEU.
The next year, these three women founded the Women’s Action Committee to jump start the Women’s Liberation Movement in Melbourne, encouraging women to become more involved in activism.
Zelda said “we had passed the stage of caring about a “lady-like” image because women had for too long been polite and ladylike and were still being ignored”.
This led the women to take more militant action on their path to equal pay. The Women’s Action Committee continued to grow and Zelda travelled around Melbourne paying only 75% of the fares, because women were only given 75% of the wage of men at the time. Because women weren’t allowed to drink in bars, only in lounges, they did pub crawls across Melbourne.
In 1972 the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission finally extended the equal pay concept to ‘equal pay for work of equal value’, and subsequent revisions have made sure that women in Victoria retain this hard-won right.
Zelda was awarded a degree in Law honoris causa by Macquarie University in 2000, and was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2001. She was awarded the Order of Australia in 2004.
……………….We owe much to women such as Zelda, Alva and Thelma for their courage and perseverance.
That concludes the #A-Z Challenge. Thank you so much for your patience and for sticking with me during this time. I hope you have enjoyed meeting some of Australia’s amazing and courageous women past and present.
Simone Young studied composition, piano and conducting at the Conservation of Music in Sydney. Commencing in 1983, she worked at Opera Australia gaining experience from accomplished conductors and in 1985 started her operatic conducting career at the Sydney Opera House.
In 1986 Simone was the first woman and youngest person to be appointed a resident conductor with Opera Australia and was named Young Australian of the Year.
She travelled overseas as an assistant to well known conductors at both the Cologne Opera and the Berlin State Opera and from 1998 until 2002 was principal conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway.
Young was the first female conductor at the Vienna State Opera in 1993 and in 2005 was the first female conductor to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic. In March 2016, Young was appointed a member of the board of the European Academy of Music Theatre. In December 2019, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Young as its next chief conductor, effective in 2022, with an initial contract of 3 years, its first female conductor.
-2004 in the Australia Day Honours, Young was named a Member of the Order of Australia “for service to the arts as a conductor with major opera companies and orchestras in Australia and internationally”.
Born in New Zealand Nancy relocated to Sydney, Australia, as a child along with the rest of her family. She trained as a nurse and a journalist and moved to Paris in the 1930’s.
When World War 2 commenced she was living in Marseille with her French husband. When France fell to Nazi Germany in 1940, Wake became a courier for an established escape network where she helped Allied airmen evade capture by the Germans and escape to Spain which was neutral. She herself fled to Spain in 1943 and continued on to the United Kingdom when the Germans became aware of her activities, calling her The White Mouse. Her husband was captured and executed.
In Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE) under the code name”Helene”. In April 1944 as a member of a three-person SOE team code-named “Freelance”, she parachuted into occupied France to liaise between the SOE and several Maquis groups, participating in a battle between the Maquis and a large German force weeks later. At the aftermath of the battle, a defeat for the maquis, she claimed to have bicycled 500 kilometers to send a situation report to SOE in London.
Veena Sahajwalla was named one of Australia’s 100 most influential engineers as well as one of Australia’s most innovative engineers by Engineers Australia 2015 and 2016 respectively. She is Professor of Materials Science in the Faculty of Science at UNSW Australia and also the Director of the UNSW SM@RT Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow. She also runs a mentoring program for women in science called Science 50:50 with the Australian Research Council which aims to inspire Australian women to pursue degrees and careers in science and technology. In 2022 Veena was recognised as the NSW Australian of the Year.
Before we share what this trailblazer has achieved – and boy, has she achieved- a little about Veena’s motivation :
Born in Mumbai, India, Veena saw first hand the piles of waste and the “pickers” who went through it on a daily basis looking for something reusable. This sparked her interest in saving waste from landfill.
She was one of a handful of women in India to study Engineering and gained a Material Science doctorate from the United States before relocating to Australia and is known internationally as the Inventor of ‘green steel’. Essentially that means that recycled truck tires are a sustainable alternative to using coal as an environmentally friendly process that could prevent over 2 million tires from being diverted to landfills each year while simultaneously creating a renewable energy source. Tires can be ground into pellets and be used instead of coal as they release fewer greenhouse gases.
She also launched the first e-waste microfactory, which processes metal alloys from old laptops, circuit boards and smartphones in 2020. At the height of the pandemic, Professor Sahajwalla’s team turned the plastics from old printers into face shields for health workers at Port Macquarie Hospital. Her most recent success has been using old beer bottles and ageing mattresses, breaking them down and turning them into ceramic tiles for use in buildings.
The Country Women’s Association of Australia , more commonly known as the CWA , is the largest women’s organisation in Australia. It has 44,000 members across 1855 branches. Its aims are to improve the conditions for country women and children and to try to make life better for women and their families, especially those women living in rural and remote Australia. The organisation is self-funded, nonpartisan and nonsectarian.
Formed in 1922 Australia Post is acknowledging the centenary of the CWA and all the good it has achieved in keeping rural women connected, and advocating on key issues such as access to medical and education services.
I think it fair to say that there is no such thing as an Aussie who hasn’t enjoyed a scone cooked from a recipe from the CWA (fundraising) Cook Book.