Past victories, present challenges: Has Feminism failed Australian women?
Wendy McCarthy has taken on many major leadership roles, including eight years as Deputy Chair of the ABC (1983 – 91). She is known locally for having held the position of Chancellor of the University of Canberra for a decade until 2005. McCarthy is a teacher, author, entrepreneur, mentor, change agent, consultant, company director and campaigner for the rights of women and children. In 2011 Wendy was featured in the International Women’s Day publication The Power of One which profiled 100 women who have shaped Australia and in 2013 she was inducted into the Women’s Agenda Hall of Fame. In 2012 Lipmag featured Wendy as feminist of the week saying “McCarthy is about identity, social justice, fairness and women taking responsibility for 50 per cent of the leadership of thought and activity in Australia and the world”.
For the 25th Anniversary Pamela Denoon Lecture, McCarthy will reflect on Feminism as one of the most powerful social movements of modern times while questioning whether we really have reached a new high-water mark in moving towards equality. Feminism has not failed Australian women but our cultural and social systems have not responded to women’s awakening expectations and aspirations. Young women today experience powerful social and institutional discrimination during their twenties and early thirties, a time when they have left the educational system and are pursuing their dreams and ambitions. This is the age when women are likely to marry and have children. At this point they must decide whether to try to hold on to their ambitions, downsize them or abandon them altogether. Often a young woman must make this decision when she is learning to be a parent, with its attendant pleasures, fears, insecurities and exhaustion.
In this lecture, McCarthy will draw from her extensive experience within the women’s movement to reflect on how we might learn from the past so as to inform current activism towards equity and equality for women.