About this record
This black-and-white photograph was taken on 8 March 1975 during International Women's Year, at the first International Women's Day rally held in Australia. The rally was held to campaign for women’s rights.
International Women's Day grew out of early 20th century activism by American and European socialist women demanding suffrage and improved working conditions. In 1975 the UN officially recognised 8 March as International Women's Day and had declared 1975 to be International Women's Year. In 1972 the General Assembly of the United Nations had declared 1976–1985 to be the UN Decade for Women.
In 1975, between 3000 and 5000 people attended the International Women's Day rally in Melbourne, organised as part of International Women's Year. In Australia, the Whitlam Government allocated $2 million to International Women's Year programs and activities. Funding was spent on a major conference focused on women’s health and welfare services, support programs for victims of domestic violence and projects that highlighted female artists.
The protest banners seen in this photograph reflect the demands of the women's movement in this period. These included:
- equal pay
- equality in employment and education
- free 24-hour childcare
- the right for women to control their own bodies
- safe contraception
- abortion on demand
- an end to both violence against women and discrimination against lesbians.
In Australia, thousands of women formed women's groups and organisations and—through direct actions such as marches and demonstrations—they demanded change to economic, political and social discrimination.
Learning resource text © Education Services Australia Limited and the National Archives of Australia 2010.