The Australian National Council of Women: Its relations with government to 1975

Marian Quartly, Judith Smart

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Abstract

This article describes the political style and practice of the Australian National Council of Women (ANCW) as it developed up to 1975. The historical significance of this lies in the fact that, during the first three quarters of the last century, the ANCW was effectively the peak body representing the great majority of women s groups in this country: groups whose activities focused on politics, religion, morality, health, education, the media, philanthropy and also peace, women s economic and political rights, child welfare and legal reform. The Council spoke on behalf of these constituents to all levels of government, and internationally through the International Council of Women. It generally did not represent women associated with trade unions and the Australian Labor Party, and the politically active women amongst its leaders tended to be members of the Liberal Party. The conduct of the Council avoided party politics; its leaders co-operated with trade unionists on issues of women s rights such as equal pay, and worked as willingly with Labor governments as with non-Labor ones. An assessment of the effectiveness of the Council s political activities is therefore an assessment of the political practice and achievements of mainstream Australian feminism before the advent of radical feminism in the 1970s
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352 - 365
Number of pages14
JournalAustralian Feminist Studies
Volume29
Issue number82
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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