Sit Down Girlie

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The journal's most popular column is ‘Sit down Girlie’ which presents snippets on legal issues from a feminist viewpoint — with a touch of humour. Acknowledgments are due to a certain Registrar of the Family Court of Australia for the title of this column. A solicitor who was appearing before him was waiting patiently for her male colleague to finish addressing the JR. Assuming he had completed his submission, she rose to her feet — prematurely it appears — and the JR roared ‘Sit down girlie’!

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Girlie Stands Up

Ann Arkie, May Hemm and Kay Oss

On Top of the Hill

Check out the papers from the Australian Women Lawyers (‘AWL’) 6th National Conference held in Perth in April 2016. Topics include, ‘Unintended consequence of government “metadata” legislation that enables domestic and family violence’ by Kylie Hillard, and gender equity in the law. AWL promotes the advancement of women in the legal profession and works to prevent discrimination against women and to make the legal system and the administration of justice more responsive to women’s needs. Its Patron is the Honourable Chief Justice Diana Bryant AO QC who told delegates in her Keynote Address, ‘In contemplating what this keynote should focus upon, I was struck by the thought that, as I approach my retirement (which is 18 months away), I feel as though I have quite a unique view of the Australian legal landscape and the place of women in it. From the top of the hill (not over it!) I can see both forward and back. I can see the past we have endured, the triumphs we have celebrated and the current challenges that will shape our futures’. Yes, women in the law have come a long way and have overcome many hurdles but there is still a long way to go, at home and internationally, before equality becomes a reality. Family, domestic and other violence, gender discrimination, unfriendly to families working conditions and men’s club attitudes still prevail in law and society in general.

(2016) 41(3) AltLJ 208

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Girlie feels like growling

Anne Gwish and Miss Errry

Zika Virus and Abortion

Writing online in Motherboard (22 February 2016) Leticia Naisa presents an excellent expose of the situation facing pregnant women in Brazil. Fuelled by the Zika virus and babies born with microcephaly, the abortion debate has reignited. Abortion is unlawful in Brazil and desperate women seek backyard abortions which may lead to horrible infections and deaths, and are expensive. Naisa writes that over a million illegal abortions are performed annually in Brazil and they are the fifth highest cause of maternal deaths.

Led by anthropologist Debora Diniz, a group of activists plans to ask the Federal Court of Brazil to change the law banning abortion: 'Our proposal for action is not only a discussion about abortion, but it is also for a social policy focused on these women and children that may now be born.' The group wants social protection and assistance for women who decide not to have an abortion particularly as the government has been negligent in not controlling the mosquitoes which carry the Zika virus.

(2016) 41(2) AltLJ 134

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Girlie goes global

Glow Belle and Polly See

Men in Blue Ties Get Stuffed

It’s not common to find positive articles promoting gender equality in the sporting pages of Victoria’s Herald Sun however Peter Rolfe does so under the headline, ‘Inspirational women urge men to bridge the gap’ (Herald Sun, 29 January 2016). Rolfe reports on a coalition of leading women from sport and business encouraging equality, including 2015 Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne, Elizabeth Broderick and Moira Kelly. Speaking at the inaugural Australian Open ‘Celebration of Inspirational Women’ they predicted an acceleration of gender equality and diversity in Australian sport, politics and business this year. They also urged men to work to kick these goals. Bring it on! The event, covered on YouTube — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N4LU4ZX8kY, shows Felicity Harley citing a report that found ‘horses get more coverage than sportswomen in Australia’!

(2016) 41(1) AltLJ 64

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Girlie sums up 2015

Mary Chrismas, Rama Dunn, Hannah Carr

Trailblazing Women

The Trailblazing Women and the Law Project is creating, showcasing and analysing the experiences of seven decades of Australia’s pioneer, ‘trailblazing’, women lawyers. Using an interdisciplinary team with expertise in the fields of gender, oral history, biography, law, citizenship, social networks, cultural informatics, digital publishing and women’s history archiving, the Project will ensure trailblazing women in law are recognized and their stories made available to inspire others. The Project Partners are ANU, Australian Women Lawyers, The University of Melbourne’s eScholarship Research Centre, Family Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia, National Foundation for Australian Women and the National Library of Australia.

The Women Lawyers’ Association of South Australia has made the Trailblazing Project their nominated charity for the 2015–16 financial year. WLASA has made a donation and is encouraging its members to donate. Girlie devotees can also be part of this inspirational work by making a donation to Trailblazing Women and the Law. Check out their website: — http:nfaw.org/donate and select ‘Trailblazing Women and the Law’.

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 283

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Girlie does it for equality

Ina Quality and Mary Mee

Stand up Girlie!

This column got its name from a Family Court Registrar who, back in 1980s, roared at Renata Alexander, then a Legal Aid Lawyer, ‘Sit Down Girlie!’  So, how much has changed since then? Well, the Law Council of Australia has long been concerned about the high attrition rate of women lawyers and has updated its 2013 National Report on attrition and re-engagement. In South Australia, a new program has been introduced to encourage women to become barristers. The South Australian Chief Justice has acknowledged the imbalance with only 16 per cent even considering the Bar as a career move and he supports the initiative. Sashi Maharaj, currently Chair of the SA Women at the Bar Committee, will help run the new program. There is recognition that unequal representation of women at the Bar means unequal representation in judicial appointments. 
(ABC, PM (online), 15 April 2015.)

(2015) 40(3) AltLJ 208

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