International Women’s Day – Honouring the Service and Sacrifice of Women

TODAY the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester marked International Women’s Day by attending a morning tea with the War Widows Guild and their supporting organisations paying tribute to the contribution of women to the armed services throughout a Century of Service.

“I encourage all Australians to recognise and respect the role women have played serving our nation in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations since the Boer War in South Africa from 1899-1902,” Mr Chester said.

“This is also an opportunity to acknowledge the important work undertaken by women on the home front during the First World War.

“Women dealt with the uncertainty and distance from war by immersing themselves in a range of patriotic funds and volunteer work.

“Huge fund-raising concerts were organised where they sang and raised thousands of pounds in donations for the war effort. They also produced packs and gifts for soldiers, including knitted garments and food items, which brought some comfort to the horror soldiers faced.

“When soldiers returned, many women’s lives were changed forever. There were thousands of widows, children without fathers, families who had lost sons, brothers and cousins.

“As carers they experienced the war first hand, dealing with illnesses, physical and psychological scarring and permanent disfigurement.

“These women epitomise the spirit of Anzacs and their service and sacrifice has contributed to the many freedoms we enjoy today.

“In the Second World War the role of women in the workplace and the services expanded.

“No longer confined to nursing, medical and voluntary roles, they were able to join a women’s arm of each of the services.

“In the years since, roles available to servicewomen have broadened further providing opportunity for greater integration in the armed services on operational deployments both within Australia and around the world.”

“Women now represent about 17 per cent of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) undertaking roles which were unheard of even 20 years ago.

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“Today we recognise and reflect with pride and gratitude the role women play in defending our country, past and present.”

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