It’s a well-known adage that history is written by the victors -” and throughout history that victor tends to be male.
To counter this, long-time feminist activist Geraldine Robertson this week launched her book Women Working Together.
The book charts 100 years of women’s activism in Victoria by compiling the views of feminists and their detractors. More than 600 women have been quoted in its pages.
Robertson said she compiled the -œhandbook as a bridge between the oral history women share and the written history stored in libraries across the state.
-œIt’s a book about the Victorian women’s movement in the words of activists and their enemies, she said. -œWe’re just trying to make available and accessible what women have done.
Robertson said she intends the book to become a reference point for those interested in further research, however, she is surprised by the interest shown by academics.
-œI never intended the book to be for academics. I’m not a historian. I just wanted the book to be a celebration and connection to the [past].
Robertson drew together resources from historians, newspaper clippings and libraries, including Melbourne University’s Baillieu Library and the State Library, as well as her extensive personal collection of stories from women.
The book focuses heavily on the godmother of the Victorian women’s movement, Zelda D’Aprano, who chained herself to the Arbitration Court in 1969 to demand equal pay for women.
Well-known songwriter and political activist Judy Small launched the book on Tuesday, exactly 100 years from the date when Victorian women could vote for the first time in state elections.
Robertson said the book comes at a time when the women’s movement is going through a hibernation period, with women concerned about issues other than the inequality which still remains between the sexes.
Robertson is convinced, however, that women’s fervour to fight back will return.
-œThe women’s movement will never die -” there’ll always be women getting together saying -˜this is not fair’.
info: Women Working Together is available at Readings, New International Bookshop and Clifton Hill Books.