Female, lefty and not gonna take it any more? Then EMILY’s List wants YOU, writes Helen Morrison.
EMILY’s List is based on the American organisation by the same name, an organisation that raises money for pro-choice Democrat women running for Congress or Governor.
The model was picked up in Australia 18 years ago, on November 11 1996, by some feminist big wigs of the Labor Party, including Victoria’s own first woman premier Joan Kirner.
Originally the model posed, after affirmative action was passed by the ALP National Conference, was that EMILY’s would come under the ALP’s National Executive.
This is was not okay by the women organising EMILY’s at that time – if we were to come under that model we would come under the control of men (not very many women have sat on National Executive, especially at the time).
EMILY’s List was to be a fundraising organisation and the idea of the funds donated specifically to women being controlled by men was not going to fly.
So we set up our own constitution and went from there. EMILY’s would fundraise for individual women running for office, who were members of the ALP.
These women would sign on as progressive candidates who support the principles of equity, diversity, reproductive rights, and the provision of equal pay and childcare. We were and are a truly feminist organisation.
To this day we have supported hundreds of women running for office and have managed to get over 150 elected. We’ve produced 18 years’ worth of gender gap research and been spokeswomen for the feminist agenda. We’ve changed Australia, right to the point of having a founding member of the List elected as Prime Minister.
We are very proud of our achievements to date but we still have work to do.
I would like to see more young women become members of our organisation. I’ll admit that I wasn’t a member before I started work at the organisation myself.
I believe the thing that holds us back from joining is the idea that EMILY’s is an organisation you join in order to run for public office – this is simply not the case.
First off it’s good to see membership as a way to show solidarity with progressive feminists within the Labor Party. Joining to show your support for these candidates is a big way for women on a small income (it’s only $30 for a years concession membership) to contribute to what is first and foremost a fundraising organisation.
But it doesn’t end there. Membership is a doorway into forming connections with those big wig feminist in the ALP that I know you love so much. We hold events hosted by the Penny Wongs, Nova Perises and Tanya Pliberseks of our sometimes dude-infested party.
Meeting women like that changes your life – trust me. Most importantly though, you can be a part of feminist organising, discussion and training.
I want to see the young feminists of the Labor Party engaging in all the areas that men generally dominate and through EMILY’s this is something we can help you do. We need young women to show us the way. We need your help with campaigns or articles or even just volunteer support.
Our fight is so far from over, even if we’ve had a woman as Prime Minister. Through EMILY’s List you can formulate a feminist future for our party, so come on, join today.
Our motto says it all: When women support women, women win.
To join EMILY’s List, go to https://www.emilyslist.org.au/support/join-with-us
Helen is a Communications Officer at EMILY’s List.