Communist Party of Australia

We acknowledge the Sovereignty of the First Nations’ Peoples.


The Guardian

Current Issue

PDF Archive

Web Archive


Press Fund


About Us

Why you should ...

CPA introduction

CPA Policies

CPA statements

Contact Us

facebook, twitter

Major Issues





Climate Change



What's On







Issue #1909      March 30, 2020


For the last century enlightened women have been struggling for equal status with men in pay and opportunity for equal work.

Frederick Engels, in Origin of the Family, has traced the relationship between the sexes from early primitive times.

He found that men and women lived in relationships which excluded the possibility of determining parentage except through the mother. She received a high respect and ruled the family. This was the Matriarchal Period. It secured to women a higher social level than they have ever had since.

With the coming of private property all things, including his wife and children, were the property of the husband.

The law and the church made them so, the latter through the teaching of St Paul who enjoined complete submission.

The law makes her entirely dependent on him, even, not long ago, giving him possession of her marriage dowry.

Today, if she does not work in industry or a profession, she is still dependent upon him. It is incumbent on him to supply her with food, clothing, and shelter but the law does not state quantity or quality.


Unfortunately custom and environment persist and many, women today accept themselves as the “inferior sex.” “I’ll ask my husband” is frequently heard as one canvasses a peace petition or at election times.

Changes have been won over the years, by the struggle of women.

These rebellious spirits, many of them writers, belonged mostly to the class who had the opportunity of education, and were spurred on by the superior-status the men of the-family occupied.

It was considered not necessary to educate a girl beyond domestic and social graces, as she would marry and not use the subjects taught to her brother. Until quite recently that idea has prevailed.

Today the advance of education has given girls the chance to pit their brains against the boys and the examination results show that there is as often a girl, at the head of the list as a boy.

But there is still not equality of opportunity. Again and again women are passed over in favour of the male.


Many women have climbed to success in professions, but it has not been easy to achieve.

They have had to strive against the prejudice of men; for men still hold the power in their hands and relegate them to the home.

Today, woman’s higher status, from her achievements, demands the respect of mankind, and she is demanding not only nylons and orchids but an equal place in any walk of life in which she achieves success.

But what of women who have, not had the opportunity of professional training, who work in industry, shops or offices.

In Australia the International Labor Organisation’s decision on equal pay for. the sexes has pot been implemented and women still get only a percentage of a man’s pay for the same job.

Unions are moving in this matter, but it is necessary for women to move faster if they wish to reach economic equality.

At the last ACTU conference a union of 20,000 women and 2,000 men members sent only men delegates. Does this mean that women are apathetic to their own interests, content to be the inferior sex? They are a necessary part of the whole work force and an efficient part.

When men realise that employers are using women’s labour because it is cheaper and their own wages and standard of living are lowered thereby, they will wake up and men and women will march together towards equality for the good of all.

In article originally appeared in Tribune May, 1964.


Back to index page

Go to What's On Go to Shop at CPA Go to Australian Marxist Review Go to Join the CPA Go to Subscribe to the Guardian Go to the CPA Maritime Branch website Go to the Resources section of our web site Go to the PDF of the Hot Earth booklet go to the World Federation of Trade Unions web site go to the Solidnet  web site Go to Find out more about the CPA