Consul shares journey for women’s day

Talitha WolfeAlbany Advertiser

It has been a long journey for women’s rights, more than a century in fact, since the first International Women’s Day was co-ordinated by the suffragettes in 1911.

Among the women fighting for change was the great-grandmother of US Consul-General Rachel Cooke, who marched in New York City for women’s right to vote.

Ms Cooke will share her own stories and opinions about women’s rights at the Great Southern Speaker Series tonight.

Career aspirations, family background, becoming a diplomat as well as working at NASA will be among topics discussed in conversation at the Albany Entertainment Centre.

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Speaking to the Albany Advertiser, Ms Cooke said her strong female role models such as her great-grandmother and her mother — who was involved in amending the US constitution to provide equal rights for women — helped her shape such an impressive career and life.

“I grew up seeing my mother actively try to make a change that people thought very necessary in our society, and being socially conscious,” she said.

“It shapes anybody, boys and girls, to have parents like that.”

Recognising there was still a way to go in achieving gender parity, Ms Cooke said it was something that would happen for Australia and the US in her lifetime.

“Just look at the changes that have been made in the last 40 years, it is enormous the progress that has been made,” she said.

“And 40 years is basically one to one-and-a-half generations, so I certainly think in my lifetime we will see parity for sure.”

Ms Cooke says movements such as International Women’s Day are a strong step forward.

“How do we achieve gender parity? I don’t really know,” she said.

“There are definitely lots of places where we can still make this effort and that effort is still important.

“But I think that ensuring men are also involved in the process is what it will take to create parity.

“To use (IWD) as an opportunity to shine a light on women rights, it’s fantastic.”

As part of her visit to Albany, Ms Cooke will be joined by filmmaker Alrick Brown, who will screen award-winning film Tell Them We are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities at Albany Town Hall tomorrow.

Visit albany.wa.gov.au for more information or to book. Tickets to the speaker series are $15 and can be bought from the AEC website.

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