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sphinxx SheEO receives Edna Ryan Workforce Award for improving conditions of female workers

Thank you to the sphinxx team for nominating me for the Edna Ryan Workforce Award which I humbly received on Friday night.  This award recognises the work sphinxx does to support the advancement of women as leaders, thereby improving conditions for women workers.  It’s nothing really though in contrast to what Edna Ryan achieved in her lifetime.

The Edna Ryan Awards celebrate the life and work of a feminist social reformer, political activist and author.  When Edna was born in 1904 (the tenth child in a family of 12 children) things could not have been more different to the workplace I work in today.  By the time Edna was five, her father was unemployed and her mother was the family breadwinner – however as a woman her mother could earn just over half the wage paid to a  man.  

When she died in 1997 at the age of 92, Edna Ryan left a rich legacy. An active feminist all her political life, one of her great joys was the burgeoning of the women’s movement in the 1970s, when her long involvement in the equal pay struggle finally culminated in the equal pay decision of 1974. 

Edna Ryan’s achievements are many and varied, and include:

  • authoring two books
  • organising the first Women and Trade Unions conference in 1976
  • starting the first post-war work-based childcare centre in 1977
  • serving on the executive of the Family Planning Association of NS
  • actively supporting women’s theatre and art groups
  • using the industrial relations system to make wages and conditions of women workers equal to that of men.

To the other category winners of the 2010 Edna Ryan awards – congratulations on the change you have made to our communities, social activism and the feminist cause.  Your stories as you told them at the Awards Night are amazing and – like Edna Ryan – you are being the change you wish to see in the world.


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