Federal Member of Parliament, Maxine McKew recounted her experiences as a journalist and a politician in a fitting speech to launch the 2009 Women’s Edition of The Bull last week.
Ms McKew, praised this year’s Women’s Bull, an annual special edition of the USU’s weekly student publication The Bull, with articles focusing on issues pertinent to women.
The Member for Bennelong said it had “gone absolutely to the heart” of contemporary women’s issues, and that publications such as the Women’s Bull are important in achieving their goals.
“I think we all need to recognise that we are the beneficiaries of more than a century of struggle by many truly great women,” said Ms McKew, a former journalist.
“In the 22 months I’ve been a Member of the Australian Parliament and the 30 years in which I’ve observed Australian political life at close quarters, I’d have to say things are different,” she said. “I sense Australians now are more comfortable than ever before with the idea of women wielding power.”
This year’s edition was co-ordinated by the 2009 USU Women’s Convenors, Anna Shelton-Agar and Alex Cordato.
Shelton-Agar, who spearheaded the publication, said the edition was not put together with a particular theme or agenda, rather that “the articles be well-researched and the arguments clearly articulated”.
The fourth-year law student said previous autonomous women’s editions of student publications often fell short of achieving the purpose of raising awareness – instead falling into traps of being deliberately confronting, overly emotive and pointing the finger.
“I didn’t believe that autonomous editions had to be that way, indeed I believe that they shouldn’t be that way,” said Shelton-Agar.
The 20-page magazine featured a range of articles written by female students from the University of Sydney, covering broad issues in professional spheres, such as equal pay and boardroom imbalance, as well as the lack of female involvement in international politics.
Other articles touched on more university-based issues, such as the experiences of women studying engineering,
The launch, held in the USU’s new Verge Gallery was attended by a strong contingent staff and students, all keen to rub shoulders with Ms McKew whose appearance was outside her home electorate.
The autonomous Women’s edition has historically been the subject of much controversy – with some believing it shouldn’t exist (an opinion also directed at the separate Queer edition).
Maxine McKew, however, threw her support behind the concept. “A few of you – Anna and other members of the Board are telling me that every year it’s a bit of a fight to have this special autonomous women’s edition,” said Ms McKew in her speech. “Well keep fighting girls, that’s what it’s all about.”