Recognising our women

About 50 women gathered at the Keepsake Garden at the library on Friday, May 17 to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage.

Former Mayoresses, Margaret Madigan and Karen Rohde attended, along with Betty Edwards and Pat Daly who were part of the original committee which created the Keepsake Garden as part of the Centenary of Women's Suffrage 25 years ago.

Two female Councillors from the Port Pirie Regional Council, Kendall Jackson and Ali Guli are working towards preserving the history of the region's women as a part of the anniversary.

Cr Kendall Jackson and Cr Ali Gulin have started collecting the names of women from across the region who have made an impact to other's lives, yet as they started to do so, they found that interest excelled and there was more history to uncover.

"Originally we started to collect names of women who had contributed in our region and as we started doing that, women became engaged in the actual anniversary and wanted to contribute themselves," Cr Jackson explained.

"It was great. What started out as gathering some names and information turned into an event."

This event brought together an array of women who will share stories of either family members, friends or people they know of who have made a contribution to the region.

"It was a lovely evening and everyone enjoyed taking the time to get together and pay tribute to the women who fought for our right to vote," Cr Jackson said.

On the night a special tapestry which was created by the Port Pirie Embroiders Guild and dedicated to the anniversary was unveiled.

It featured an array of women's names, with the opportunity for names to be added as well.

Additionally on the night which was greatly supported by the Soroptimist Port Pirie, their president Darylin Cowling and the mayoress Deb Stephens planted a rose in the garden to mark the occasion.

The 125th anniversary falls on December 17, which is when the Councillors hope to launch their project, showing the collation of names and stories but until then will work to gather the information and think how to best present it.

The final format is currently unknown but both Councillors agree that a lot of this project has been raising awareness and teaching others that women did not always have the right to vote.

"It has opened the conversation as well.".

"Lots of younger people don't really understand what it was, so the line of communication has become open. They are asking the questions about women's suffrage," Cr Gulin said.

Since the announcement of their project several months ago both Kendall and Ali have been inundated with names of women who have contributed to the region.

Kendall explains that women from all career types, volunteering roles and different achievements have been brought up and they are thoroughly enjoying researching all the history that has come with the project.

"We have all the former female Councillors, we have partners of local politicians because obviously they are big contributors to our community as well. People like Nancy Jaeschke who has contributed 50 years to Meals on Wheels, Sister Bray who was a sister at the hospital, she was very well known and did a lot for women in the community on the health side of things.

"It has been lovely. People have reached out. Former mayoresses have contributed, given us names of people they know. I have been in contact with people who were on the original committee for setting up the keep sake garden," Kendall said.

If you are interested in the project and would like to chat more about it contact Kendall on 0438 664 179 or Ali on 0407 308 571.