Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A tardis trip to legislating sex discrimination in Australia ... lest we forget

I would like to take Networkers on a trip down memory lane. 

With all this bleating from the Liberal National Party who appear to be deaf and ignorant in respect to sexism, let me put you in a tardis and take you back to 1984. 

Australia had ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). One of the obligations on a nation in ratifying a UN convention is that the there will be domestic legislation passed to give effect to the convention. Thus it was that the Hawke Government legislated and passed the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

Perhaps, you may be saying, oh well that's all very ho hum. Well it wasn't. The forces of conservatism, sexism and ignorance rose up to fight this abomination. Conservative churches like the Assemblies of God were to the fore. (We hadn't heard much if anything about Brian and Bobbie Houston and Hillsong at that stage! And there was no Jim Wallace and the Australian Christian Lobby!) 
Rosemary Fenton as Miss Australia 1960

And then there was the National Party. This was the year that Ian Sinclair became leader of the National Party. Ian was married to Rosemary Fenton a very lovely former Miss Australia. This was not connected to Miss Australia contests to-day. This was a major fundraiser for cerebal palsy organisations around the country. Then they were known as Spastic Centres. (I know this is a history lesson from another time and space!) 

The Nationals were dead against the SDA and who did they trot out to prosecute the case? None other than Rosemary (Fenton) Sinclair. How demeaning! A beautiful, intelligent woman pressed into service against sex discrimination! These are just some of my memories. 

The Destroy the Joint campaign against Alan Jones with the cream on the cake of Julia Gillard's attack in Parliament on misogyny and sexism, in my view, has achieved a new milestone for women. 

It has become clear in the reporting that there are still some men who just don't get it. But women do - except for those who live in mortal fear of Labor and The Greens. So it's onward and upward from here.

We have been given a very strong vaulting horse 
from which we can face the world 
with heads held high and arms out there flying!

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