Next week ABC1 screens Utopia Girls, a documentary that tells the story of how Australian women became the first in the world to gain full political rights. That was in South Australia if my Trivial Pursuit recall is correct.
Presented by Historian Dr Clare Wright (The Einstein Factor), this features well-known actors reciting from contemporary texts including Tom Budge, David Field, Alice Garner, Nicholas Hope, Simon Maiden, Barry Otto, Anna Lise Phillips, Alexandra Schepisi and Kerry Walker.
Women in the 19th century had virtually no political rights. Once they married they signed over everything to their husbands (including their children). If the marriage turned abusive it was almost impossible to escape. Worse still was the fate of unmarried mothers. Improving the lot of all women could only be achieved through political representation.
This representation came about through the vision and hard work of five remarkable women – Caroline Dexter, Henrietta Dugdale, Louisa Lawson, Mary Lee and Vida Goldstein. With their comrades, they would carry the flag over half a century until a newly federated Australia could claim its title as a uniquely democratic nation, but their stories were not without personal trials and crushing setbacks.
ABC1’s broadcast coincides almost 110 years to the day since women were granted the right to vote at a federal level and to stand for election to the Parliament of Australia via the Commonwealth Franchise Act.
9:30pm Thursday June 14th ABC1.