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Advocating Bravely for Women’s Rights with Wendy McCarthy


Moral bravery is one of the topics that we speak about most frequently on The Very Brave Podcast. Many of my interviews involve someone who saw something that requires speaking up about in order to change the lives of others. While it may not be the traditional definition of bravery as many understand it, it is bravery nonetheless.

This week, I spoke with Wendy McCarthy who is one of the trailblazers in Australia for standing firm for women’s rights and the social injustices that we face as women. As a mother, teacher, and author, Wendy has used her voice to speak boldly against the abortion laws that women face, and, thanks to her advocacy, the whole of Australia recognizes abortion as a health issue as opposed to a criminal offense.

Wendy and I speak about her life and her experiences and what it means to speak up about the injustices that we see in our lives, even if they may not apply directly to you at that moment. By walking a path to change the horrible experiences we have faced for the women that come after us, we can begin to shake the pillars of our culture and bring about a new age.


Wendy McCarthy

Wendy McCarthy has made her mark on this country in many extraordinary ways. For more than 50 years, she has been on the leading edge of feminism and corporate and public life in Australia and her trail-blazing advocacy and leadership have made her a widely respected and revered figure. Wendy is a woman who shaped her times as much as she was shaped by them, and now at 81 years of age, she shares her remarkable life and achievements, and the lessons she learned – and taught us all.

From sheltered country schoolgirl to relentless campaigner for abortion and contraception, from passionate teacher to lifelong advocate for education, to smashing that glass ceiling again and again and showing the way to subsequent generations of women, Wendy has championed change across the public, private and community sectors, in education, family planning, human rights, public health, overseas aid and development, conservation, heritage, media and the Arts.

Don’t be Too Polite Girls is a personal and political memoir about life, love, family, and politics – as experienced by Wendy over eight
decades. As she says, ‘My story is about a determined girl who was
the first in the family to go to university. It is the story of how my generation of women changed Australia. We fought to have our voices heard and imagined a different Australia: an Australia in which girls had the opportunity to. Complete secondary education, where women who had missed out on education had a second chance. An Australia where there was equal pay, and universal access to safe contraception and abortion. Where childcare and early learning was accessible and affordable. Where a mantra of political action for women could be “A woman’s place is in the House and in the senate”.

Over decades of feminist activism Wendy has encouraged women to find their voice and listen to it. 


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