A Radiance of Women

When I began working in my late teens, I was largely innocent to inequities between work opportunities for women versus men. It seemed the unquestioning norm that men, primarily, took up leadership roles while women, primarily, took supporting roles. After all, things had come a long way since my mother’s time. Back then in the fifties, as a young married woman her bank would not allow her to have a savings account in her own name, and employer rulings meant that many in her circle, once married, were compelled to surrender their careers.

Mrs+D+front+coverRecently I read Lynne Leonhardt’s meticulously researched Step Up, Mrs Dugdale, a novel based on the life of Australian suffragette Henrietta Dugdale. Henrietta’s story set me firmly down within the awful confines of a late 19th and early 20th century world, where married women were regarded as property with no legal rights of their own, where the efforts of a few battled long and hard for a move toward equity, for changes to unjust marital laws and property ownership, for a woman’s right to vote—freedoms I take as givens in this cruisy 21st-century world.

2017 Robyn at the Helm -- by Karen Povey Arctic 2017

Photo ©Karen Povey

Thanks to the courageous voices of each generation, women in Australia are largely afforded choice and opportunity. I am thankful for the choice to take up writing studies at a time and age that was right for me, for the opportunity to forge a self-made career rich in experience. In my seasonal shipboard role, which began in 1998, I am part of an exciting momentum that places women as leaders, acknowledged for their skill, experience and personal qualities. May such recognition cast itself across all the colours of the spectrum.

IWD 2020 logo

As thoughts turn to International Women’s Day 2020, my shout of cheer goes to the radiance of women I know, whose extraordinary lives enrich and inspire my own. Amongst them are adventurers, artists, archaeologists, ambassadors, animal lovers, bush walkers, biologists, birdos, carers, caretakers, climbers, climate crusaders, coordinators, educators, editors, gardeners, graphic designers, glaciologists, garlic growers, heroines, historians, hairdressers, kayakers, killer cooks (the harmless variety), larrikins, life savers, leaders, literary agents, managers, mothers, mentors, medicos, naturalists, novelists, performers, peace makers, potters, poets, polar guides, photographers, publishers, playwrights, readers, recyclers, swimmers, students, scientists, stewardesses, snowshoers, ship’s officers, speech pathologists, station leaders, Scrabble lovers, travellers, teachers of little ones, teachers of big ones, trail blazers, tireless volunteers AND fellow Zodiac drivers.

14 thoughts on “A Radiance of Women

  1. Robyn, just perfect. ‘A Radiance of Women’ is such a timely, generous ode to strong women. And as you say, to being thankful for being born to a time when we can achieve. I’ve always seen you create with such grace that I know you’ll never stop being thankful. I’m with you!

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  2. I’ve been so lucky as a man to be surrounded by strong and capable women for most of my life. It seems obvious and natural to me that there is no difference in capability, so there should be no difference in opportunity.
    I love listening to The Guilty Feminist (strong language warning) and can think of no greater goal than to smash the patriarchy which holds both women and men in bondage. Having sung (choir) in an oratorio that celebrated the creation of the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom (over a century old and still going), I must suggest Henrietta to our librettist for future compositions.
    Andrew

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  3. You are an inspiration, Robyn! Thank you for spreading the word about my book, ‘STEP UP, MRS DUGDALE”. Mrs D. – my great-great grandaunt – would be amazed to learn about your rich, varied and adventurous life, and the enormous steps forward women have taken since her lifetime.

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    • Thank you, Lynne. Your novel has certainly given me pause to reflect on how things were and the struggle for betterment. I think I might be a little bit intimidated (while admiring) of Mrs D if I came face to face with her in real life!

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  4. Well said Robyn. Despite loving my Dad fiercely, I grew up in an era where it was not out of place for him to voice opinions of the time – like when I said I would like to do an art course he commented: “What do you want to do that for? Girls just get married!”
    We have educated our daughters to be strong independent women and both have continued with their careers, and motherhood, with the support of their partners. One of my sons-in-law commented that he didn’t want to be married to a housewife!!! Not that there is anything wrong with being a housewife if it is what someone chooses, but how different is my son-in-law’s attitude from the 1950s!!!!

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      • And you for me! If I were 20 years younger I would steal your job 🙂 🙂 We – hopefully – are going on the Christmas trip this year, but doubt that you will be on board. A huge bonus if you were.

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      • Great to hear, Vi. Christmas in Antarctica is the best. At this stage I’ll be on later in the season, but I will let you know if that changes.

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      • And you for me! 🙂 If I were 20 years younger I would steal your job! All things being equal, M and I will be in Antarctica for Christmas 2020. I am sure you will not be on board, but it would be a big bonus if you were!

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  5. This is fantastic, Robyn. How wonderful to see such a varied list of the extraordinary roles of women in your life. I often tell people about this cool woman I met in Svalbard and hold dear that image of you at the helm of a Zodiac. Bad Ass women are my favorite people!
    Karen
    P.S. I love that I always learn some great new Aussie terms when I read your work. Hooray for birdos and larrikins!

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