Overview

At the federal level, the right for women to stand for parliament in Australia was granted in 1902, but this was not the case in all states, including Western Australia. Immediately after World War I, women’s organisations in Western Australia renewed their campaign for greater civic rights. Edith Dircksey Cowan OBE (1861–1932), a long-time social justice campaigner, was part of this movement for change. In 1920, legislation was finally passed that ended the legal barrier to women entering state parliament in Western Australia.

Cowan was one of four women candidates in the 1921 Western Australian state election. She campaigned on law and order and the need for women to push on social issues. Cowan also outlined her significant community service record to voters (she had already received an OBE for such service, in 1920, especially as chairperson of the Red Cross Appeal during World War I). In March 1921, at 59 years of age, Edith Cowan narrowly defeated the sitting member in the seat of West Perth to not only become to first woman elected to Parliament in Western Australia but also to any parliament in Australia.

The initial press coverage of Cowan’s election success was demeaning. Cartoons in The Bulletin, for example, pictured Cowan in Parliament as a housewife, complete with mop and bucket, and referred to her “housewifely instincts”. In fact, Edith Cowan was a strong and effective parliamentarian. She promoted migrant welfare and the rights of women and children, including the need for sex education in schools. She achieved the rare feat of having two private member’s bills passed. Cowan lost the 1924 and 1927 elections. However, she had already paved the way for women.

Technical specifications

Issue date
2 March 2021
Issue withdrawal date
30 September 2021
Denomination
$1.10
Stamp design
Lisa Christensen, Three Branches Design
Product design
Lisa Christensen, Three Branches Design
Paper: gummed
Tullis Russell Red Phos
Printer
RA Printing
Printing process
Offset lithography
Stamp size (mm)
26 x 37.5
Sheetlet size (mm)
151 x 101
Perforations
14.6 x 13.86
Sheet layout
Sheetlet of 10
FDI Postmark
West Perth WA 6005
FDI withdrawal date
30 March 2021

Stamps in this issue

$1.10 Edith Cowan: First Woman in Parliament

The stamp design features a photographic portrait of Edith Cowan OBE, taken in 1921. The quote is an excerpt from her maiden parliamentary speech, a speech which, despite long-standing convention to the contrary, was frequently interjected. The gumnut motif is a reference to a gumnut brooch that Cowan had made for her election support team. It represented the fact that the seat was, in Cowan’s words, “a tough nut to crack”.

Shop our stamp collectables

Stamp:

Edith Cowan: First Woman in Parliament Gummed Stamp

This stamp commemorates 100 years since the election of the first woman to any parliament in Australia.

Sheetlet pack:

Edith Cowan: First Woman in Parliament Sheetlet Pack

The Edith Cowan: First Woman in Parliament sheetlet pack contains the sheetlet of 10 x $1.10 stamps from the stamp issue presented in high quality folder.

Sheetlet:

Sheetlet 10x Edith Cowan: First Woman in Parliament Stamps

The gummed sheetlet contains 10 x $1.10 stamps from the Edith Cowan: First Woman in Parliament stamp issue.

Maxicard:

Edith Cowan: First Woman in Parliament Maxicard

The Edith Cowan: First Woman in Parliament maxicard is a *prepaid postcard with the $1.10 gummed stamp affixed and postmarked on the view side.

Additional products:

This content was produced at the time of the stamp issue release date and will not be updated.