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1990

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The ordination of Anglican women priests
The ordination of Anglican women priests
Courtesy of The West Australian
Carmen Lawrence
Carmen Lawrence
Courtesy of The West Australian
Cheryl Davenport
Cheryl Davenport
Courtesy of The West Australian
Cheryl Edwardes
Cheryl Edwardes
Courtesy of The West Australian

Women's voices are now clearer and stronger than ever, with women occupying key positions in our State and Commonwealth Parliaments.

Carmen Lawrence became Australia's first female Premier, and her government was the first in Australia to have five female cabinet ministers simultaneously.  In the 1993 Court government Cheryl Edwardes was appointed Western Australia's first female Attorney General.

For several years Western Australian Senators representing The Greens; Christobel Chamarette and Dee Margetts , together with then Democrat Leader Cheryl Kernot, held the balance of power in the Senate.

In 1998 the controversial Davenport Bill was passed, moving regulation of abortion into the Health Act.  This landmark decision meant Western Australian women would no longer face prosecution for undergoing an abortion.

As Western Australian women enter their second century of political entitlement, it is worth recalling the attitude of one of our most notable female politicians.

In 1894 Edith Cowan suggested that her women's political group, the Karrakatta Club, adopt the motto Spectemur Agendo (`Let us be judged by our actions').

Close to 30 years later her commitment to action was rewarded with a seat in State Parliament.  It was the beginning of women's active participation in our formal political process, a fact she drew to the attention of her male counterparts in her first speech as a member. 

She said: "If men and women can work for the State side by side and represent all the different sections of the community...I cannot doubt that we should do very much better work in the community than was ever done before. "

That statement is as true now as it was then.