How nice it is to stop and appreciate what Green women have done. To celebrate International Women’s Day I had the privilege of spending the afternoon with some of Tasmania’s best and brightest Greens women, and had the honour of presenting Melva Truchanas on behalf of the women of the United Tasmania Group with the inaugural Tasmanian Greens Women award.
We are terrible at celebrating our own history and contributions to the movement. Throughout our movement and various campaigns it is women who organise things and then continue on with organising the next thing. Too often we forget to celebrate the work and achievements of women in the Greens, and in our community. I want to give a big shout out to Greens women who are the instigators and organisers.
Looking back on women in the movement, and I put the movement broadly, it is the environment movement that led to the development of the Greens in Tasmania. First of all through the Lake Pedder and Franklin campaigns, the forest and Pulp mill campaigns and so on. The peace movement contributed as well, as it was very much part of the Cold War environment in which people were thinking about and working for greater peace. They were thinking about non-violence and environmental protection. Social justice was a definite feature in the beginning and it has rightly become more a part of the environmental movements in recent years, probably more so than at the start.
Initially the campaigns we undertook here in Tasmania were about looking after the places we lived in and looking after ourselves and future generations. So it is not surprising that it was women in the community who wanted to protect the environment, women who wanted to build a peaceful cohesive community. This has been the leadership, coordinating and organising role of Green women throughout.
One such woman was Helen Gee, a leader, coordinator, organiser and bringer together of community to protect our beautiful island. Margaret Wilkinson from the north-west coast of Tasmaniawas one of our first life members best known for her campaigns to protect the Don Heads from subdivision.
In all of these campaigns it is the women who have been the people who make things happen. They have organised the hall, organised the flyers, organised the doorknockers, organised the bucket for fundraisers, and organised their community into action. All the while sharing child care and providing food.
In looking back on International Women’s Day and all the wonderful Greens women across Tasmania, Australia and the world, I pay tribute to and celebrate the crucial leadership, coordination and organisational work undertaken by women that enables us all to work for the planet, and our communities.
It is all too true that behind every “front” person in the movement there is a team of strong, passionate, hard working women.