Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

Skip to content

Exhibitions

  • From Lady Denman to Katy Gallagher: A Century of Women's Contributions to Canberra
  • Putting Skirts on the Sacred Benches: Women Candidates for the New South Wales Parliament

Use Trove to find more resources by/about this Woman

  • Trove

Ryan, Edna Minna (1904 - 1997)

Born
15 December 1904
Pyrmont, New South Wales, Australia
Died
10 February 1997
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Occupation
Feminist, Trade unionist, Activist and Writer
Alternative Names
  • Nelson, Edna (maiden name)

Summary

Edna Ryan was a leading figure in three eras of feminism in the 20th century. As a feminist and labour activist she is credited with achieving equal pay for women, maternity leave and work based child care. Ryan wrote numerous articles, conference papers, submissions to government and two books, Gentle invaders (1975) and Two thirds of a man (1984).

Details

Parliamentary and Local Government Career

Local
  • Alderman, Fairfield Municipal Council, 1956-65
  • Deputy Mayor 1958
  • Member, Prospect County Council retired 1972
State
  • Candidate, Mosman, 1953
Other Highlights
  • Participated in the first International Women's Day 1928;
  • Organised the wives of the timber workers strike 1929;
  • Member of Communist Party and International Workers of the World 1920-35c;
  • Joined Australian Labor Party 1935;
  • Organised first residential Summer School for women for the Workers Educational Association;
  • First female Deputy Mayor in NSW 1958;
  • Alderman Fairfield Council 1959-65;
  • First woman president of the largest branch of the Municipal Employees' Union 1960s;
  • Campaign manager for future Prime Minister Gough Whitlam;
  • Founding member of Women's Electoral Lobby 1972;
  • Presented breakthrough submission to the Arbitration Commission to award low paid women workers the same minimum wage as men 1974;
  • Published Gentle Invaders, Australian Women and the Workforce 1788-1974 with Anne Conlon 1975.

Ryan campaigned for maternity leave and work-based child care for women workers, was an advocate of women's reproductive rights, and campaigned on the negative impacts of enterprise bargaining and compulsory superannuation on low paid women workers. In 1984 she published Two-thirds of a Man: Women and Arbitration in New South Wales 1902-08. The following year she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Sydney, and in 1995 was again awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters, this time by Macquarie University.

Edna Ryan had three children - Julia, Lyndall and Patrick - whom she raised alone after the early death of her husband, Jack Ryan.

Sources used to compile this entry: Caine, Barbara, Australian Feminism: A Companion, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1998, 607 pp; Smith, A. Viola, Women in Australian Parliaments and Local Governments, Past and Present, Australian Local Government Women's Association; Australian National Advisory Committee on International Women's Year, Australian Local Government Women's Association, Canberra, 1975, 148 pp.

Related entries

Related Organisations

Archival resources

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio Archives

  • Interviews with Edna Ryan, 1975 - 1996; Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio Archives. Details

Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales

  • Edna Ryan further papers, 1961-1989, 1961 - 1989, MLMSS 4786 ADD-ON 2090; Ryan, Edna Minna (1904 - 1997); Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details
  • Edna Ryan papers, 1965-1986, 1965 - 1986, MLMSS 4786 (MLK 4187-MLK 4198; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details
  • Pat Richardson scrapbooks relating to the Women's Electoral Lobby and women's events, 1977-2002, 1977 - 2002, PXA 634; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details
  • Ros Bowden - interviews conducted for radio programs and documentaries, ca.1975 - 1989, c. 1975 - 1989, MLOH 304; Bowden, Ros; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Papers of Beryl Henderson, 1973 - 1992, MS 9360; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • Papers of Edna Ryan, 1948 - 1993, MS 9140; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

National Library of Australia Oral History Collection

  • Interview with Edna Ryan [sound recording] Interviewer: Sara Dowse, 1991, TRC 2742; National Library of Australia Oral History Collection. Details
  • Interview with Edna Ryan [sound recording] Interviewer : Lucy Taksa., 19 October 1987, TRC 2301 INT 156; National Library of Australia Oral History Collection. Details

The Noel Butlin Archives Centre, ANU Archives Program

  • Jack Kavanagh Personal Papers, 1912 - 1978, P12Z400; The Noel Butlin Archives Centre, ANU Archives Program. Details
  • Papers of Edna Ryan, 1981 - 1993, Z490(pt); The Noel Butlin Archives Centre, ANU Archives Program. Details

Digital resources

Title
Edna Ryan
Type
Image

Details

Elle Morrell

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

© Copyright in The Australian Women's Register is owned by the Australian Women's Archives Project
and vested in each of the authors in respect of their contributions from 2000

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0004b.htm

The Australian Women's Register is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

The Australian Women's Register is published quarterly by the Australian Women's Archives Project
ISSN 2207-3124