​Edith Cowan (1861-1932)

“One says that I cannot achieve. Well that one now says, ‘I cannot think properly.’”

Edith Dircksey Cowan was born on the 2nd of August 1861 in Geraldon, Australia. Edith was concerned with social issues in the legal system, particularly for women and children. She was Australia’s first female parliamentarian, after successfully campaigning for the right for women to stand for office in 1926.

Edith Cowan helped build Perth’s Kind Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, form the Women’s Service Guild’s, and was a co-founder of the Western Australia’s National Council of Women. She also collected food and clothing and coordinated efforts to care for returned soldiers during World War I.

Edith’s portrait is featured on the $50 polymer note, which is based on a 1929 photograph from the biographical register of Western Australian Parliament. Fittingly, one of the design features in the King Edward Memorial Hospital that Edith was instrumental in establishing – a much needed women’s and maternity hospital. In the top right corner, there is also a brooch and today’s parliament seating plan. The brooch depicts a cracked gumnut conveying the idea that entry into Parliament as a woman was a tough nut to crack.

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