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The Golding Sisters Essay

1172 words - 5 pages

The ‘Good Christian Award’ recognises outstanding works in a religious context. The Golding Sisters (Isabelle Therese, Annie Mackenzie and Kate Dwyer) are worthy of such recognition based on their brave plight for social justice and equality for women at the turn of the 20th century. These women founded various organisations and used public speaking skills, firsthand understanding of women’s needs and Catholic social teaching principles to sway opinions of those who didn’t support women’s equality. Evidence of their work is still evident today with women in Australia enjoying equality in society, freedom of speech, equal pay and vocations.

The Golding Sisters lobbied for women’s rights to equal pay and employment. Annie Mackenzie (1855-1934) and Isabella Therese (1864-1940) began their careers teaching in both public and catholic schools (Kingston, 2013). Annie worked with infants and girls and later shifted to teaching at the Asylum for Destitute Children (Kingston, 2013). She was also a member on the State Children Relief Board. Belle left teaching early to pursue a career as the first female government inspector in 1900 (Lemon, 2008). With their sister Kate Dwyer (1861-1949), Labour leader and school teacher, the sister’s began the Womanhood Suffrage League in 1893 and the Woman’s Progressive Foundation in 1901 which aimed to combat the inability for women to work in certain industries and sit on juries (The Sunday Morning Herald, 1933). Belle’s research skills assisted in preparing the sister’s persuasive speeches and statements (Fawkner & Kelly, 1995). In 1921 Kate became a female Justice of Peace (Gallego, 2013). Kate also wrote extensively about politics, industries and women’s questions.

The actions of the Golding Sisters impacted society and the Church at the time. When gold was discovered in the 1850’s, Australia experienced a population boom and an influx of foreign immigrants all trying their luck at making it rich. The new Australians had different cultures and varying religious practices. They sought for schools and places of prayer in their own languages (Dixon, 2005). Unemployment and financial struggles grew with this increasing population. Male dominance was considered the norm so women were left with unjust opportunities for unemployment and equality in the workplace (Women's Diaries, 1997). The Golding Sisters felt it was their duty to bring peace and equality to society so established such foundations as the Women’s Organising Society. By 1900, five million women were in the labor force (Women's Diaries, 1997). The Golding Sisters worked hard to remove discrimination from society, resulting in multicultural immigrants participating freely in Church activities and masses. The Church became what 19th Century Irish bishops hoped for; a Church based on the Irish model (Dixon, 2005). Their work was often described as a ‘practical expression of the Catholic faith’ (Fawkner & Kelly, 1995). Thus, the Golding Sisters should be...

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