Jessie Mary Grey Street

Jessie Mary Grey Street (1889-1970) was Australiaís leading feminist by 1943, prominent in national and international womenís organisations seeking equality of status and opportunity. She advanced these aims through the United Nations (1945 and 1947-48). Her peace activism in the Cold War provoked false accusations that she was a communist. In the 1950s she assisted Aborigines campaigning for citizenship rights. Courtesy Australian Dictionary of Biography

Events

18 December 1929

United Associations of Women

The United Associations of Women is one of the most radical feminist groups of the mid twentieth century. It is formed in Sydney by women advocating a more stronger political voice for women. Jessie Street, increasingly frustrated with the conservatism of groups like the National Council of Women and the Feminist Club, initiates a series of meetings that result in the establishment of the United Associations. The UA is active throughout the 1930s and 40s, and plays a major role in organising the Australian Women’s Charter Conference in 1943 attended by over 90 women’s organisations in Australia.

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A group of women from the United Associations of Women, The Sun, 7 August 1931.
10 February 1947

UN Commission on the Status of Women

Jessie Street is appointed as Vice-Chair of the newly established United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which is charged with reporting on issues relating to the political, economic, civil, social and educational rights of women.

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Jessie Street speaks to delegates at the UN Women’s Conference San Francisco, 1945.
25 June 1950

Korean War (1950-53)

Towards the end of World War II, US and Soviet forces occupy the Korean peninsula, having liberated it from Japan. The two powers divide responsibility for Korea between themselves at the 38th parallel. A Soviet-supported communist regime emerges in the north and a US-backed one in the south. Both regimes seek reunification — but under their respective governments. On 25 June, the North Korean army pushes south. The United States sends in support to the south and the United Nations enlists 21 nations against the north. When the UN force enters the north, the Chinese move in with several army divisions. More than 1.5 million people die in various battles. A peace agreement is reached on 27 July 1953.

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Evacuation of wounded soldiers of the 1st Commonwealth Division shortly after China’s entry into the Korean War, north-west Korea, 1950.
27 May 1967

’67 Referendum

The ‘67 Referendum poses two questions: the first seeks to alter the balance of numbers in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The second question asks whether two references in the Australian Constitution which discriminate against Aboriginal people should be removed. This question receives an unprecedented 90 per cent ‘yes’ vote, giving the parliament the power to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the federal Census and to make special laws for Aboriginal Australians. It is a landmark referendum in the history of Indigenous affairs, and marks the success of a ten year campaign launched in 1957 at the Sydney Town Hall. The Huge Town Hall meeting was organised by Aboriginal activists including Jessie Street, Faith Bandler, Gordon Bryant and Pearl Gibbs.

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‘Yes’ for Aborigines, referendum poster, 27 May 1967.