Tag Archives: International Women’s Day

Trailblazers: Four Australian women who changed the world

Historically, freedom and success have not come easily to women. Today we are fortunate to experience a level of freedom that many women before us had to fight for.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day next month, we wanted to highlight four inspiring women who encountered challenges, refused to take no for an answer and in doing so, changed the future for women in Australia.

Maude “Lores” Bonney, Aviator

Lores Bonney

Labelled the ‘forgotten figure in aviation history.’ Maude “Lores”  Bonney’s story began in secrecy.

Fearing that her husband Harry would disapprove of her ambitious ways**, she decided to teach herself how to fly in secret. Lores didn’t even know how to drive, but that didn’t stop her. Each weekend she would hitch a ride with the milkman to the nearby airport, where she took lessons.

Lores went on to become the first Australian woman to receive a commercial pilot’s license.

Among her aviation accolades:

  1. First woman to circumnavigate Australia by air
  2. First woman to fly from Australia to England.
  3. First flight Australia to South Africa.

Prior the outbreak of WWII, Lores was planning her around the world flight, which came to an abrupt end when her plane was destroyed in a fire. She tried to offer her services to the Australian Defence Force, but at the time women were not allowed to fly on military service. By the time the war had ended, Lores had lost her confidence as a pilot and never flew seriously again. 

Although Lores stopped flying, she paved a way through an industry that had up until that point, closed its doors to women.

You can read more about Lores’s incredible life in “Taking Flight: Lores Bonney’s Extraordinary Flying Career” by Kristen Alexander.

** Lores’s husband was actually incredibly supportive. Even buying her her first plane!

Brigitte Muir, Modern-day Explorer

Brigitte Muir

Brigitte is a prime example of when the ‘going get’s tough, the tough get going’.

After three failed attempts to summit Mt Everest and suffering from sickness, poor weather, hyperthermia and an avalanche- most people would have given up, but not Brigitte. Instead, she picked herself up and gave it another go.

After a nine year journey, Brigitte became the first Australian woman to summit Everest and the first Australian (both male or female) to summit the seven peaks (being the highest summit in each continent).

2017 celebrates 20 years since Brigitte summited Everest, with only ten Australians having ever reached the summit.

For her service in mountaineering, Brigitte received the Order of Australia medal.

Brigitte is now a motivational speaker and documentary maker, encouraging people to climb their own mountains.

Fanny Durack and Mina Wylie, Australia’s first female Olympians


Becoming an Olympic athlete is an incredible feat in itself. To be the first ever Australian female athletes to participate in the Olympic Games is groundbreaking!

Fanny Durack and Mina Wylie were the best female swimmers Australia had to offer. Regardless of this, they were refused entry into the Olympic Games because of one reason: men would be present at their swimming events and this was against NSW law.

The women refused to take no for an answer and eventually an agreement was met; they would be allowed to participate in the 1912 Stockholm Games if they paid their own expenses (a requirement that was not made to their male counterparts).

At the games, Mina won silver in the 100m freestyle event and Fanny took home the gold. Their actions changed the face of female athletics in Australia, with 214 female athletes representing Australia in the 2016 games.

In the years that followed, Fanny held every world record in women’s swimming. Not a bad feat for someone who had to fight their way to represent their country!

Fighting the right battle rather than giving up in the face of adversity takes a lot of courage and strength. As these women can attest, a challenge represents an opportunity to grow and change the world for the better.

Joyce Clague, Political Activist


Joyce Clague is a Yaegl elder and one of Australia’s most influential female political activists who has spent her life trying to revolutionise the nation and create social change for Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander people. With a strong passion for bettering indigenous welfare, Clague helped instigate the 1967 Constitutional Referendum and fought against the inequalities that run deep within Indigenous Australia as the convener of the 1969 Federation Council for Advancement of Aborigines.

Her tireless efforts to fight for what’s right did not go unacknowledged as she was appointed a representative of the World Churches Commission to Combat Racism.

Want to change the world?

You can create your own adventure, visit our 2018 calendar to see our latest challenges!


What does International Women’s Day have to do with men?

In short, the answer is everything. However one word will not make for a very compelling article, so let’s explore the idea.

In September 2014, Emma Watson (or Hermione, as most of us know her) launched the United Nations’ HeForShe campaign with a compelling speech in New York.

In it she detailed how she came to be a feminist and what the word means to her. She then went on to extend a formal invitation to men to participate in the journey to global gender equality.

Sadly a number of feminists took issue with this. Their qualm was the belief that men benefit from the power given to them by gender stereotypes. In a blog on Black Girl Dangerous, Mia McKenzie states that Watson “seems to suggest that the reason men aren’t involved in the fight for gender equality is that women simply haven’t invited them.”

She intimates that women have been trying to get men to care about the oppression of women, however they have never been overwhelmingly interested.

While it is important to respect all opinions, it is more realistic to assume that most men perhaps don’t understand (rather than don’t care about) the issues associated with gender inequality.

Ban Ki-moon equality quoteInternational Women’s Day (IWD) is an opportunity for both women and men to reflect on progress made in the fight for gender equality, to continue to call for change and to celebrate the acts of women who have campaigned for equal rights.

In fact, the theme for IWD 2015 is “Equality for women is progress for all”, a notion that highlights the shared benefits of gender equality.

The fact is if you’re born a girl, the odds are stacked against you. While in most developed countries women are encouraged to get an education, have the right to vote, have access to healthcare services and are entitled to work; in countries such as Sierra Leone being a girl means you are more likely to be sexually assaulted than to attend school.

In addressing the original question, men and boys can be advocates for change when they fully understand the issue we face. Feminism need not be an uncomfortable word. It inherently implies that together we believe that all people are entitled to the same civil rights and liberties regardless of gender. It proposes a shared commitment in the fight against the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls.

As Watson states gender should be viewed on a spectrum, not as two opposing ideals. So this International Women’s Day, on 8 March, start a conversation. Ask yourself how you, your family, your community and our world can benefit from gender equality, and what you can do, no matter how small, to promote equal rights.

Feeling inspired?