Queensland Law Society

International Women's Day Panel Discussion

Thursday 7 March, Banco Court

QLS President, opening address

Working together in such a way fosters a great spirit of collegiality and progress as we strive to live and promote this year’s international theme of #BalanceforBetter and the Australian theme of “More Powerful Together”.

Tonight, we have many influential female legal professionals in this room.

But where did we begin? From the solicitors’ branch, we recognise our trailblazer, Agnes McWhinney who became the first female solicitor in Queensland in 1915.

Agnes led the way for women in the profession, even though it took some time to see momentum build.

Agnes was present in 1926 when Katherine Elizabeth McGregor became the first woman in Queensland to be admitted as a barrister.

In 1990, the first female Magistrate was appointed in Grace Kruger.

Justice Margaret McMurdo was the first female judge in Queensland when she was commissioned in the District Court in 1991. Justice McMurdo would go on to be the first female head of jurisdiction in 1998 as President of the Court of Appeal.

Queensland’s first female Chief Justice was even more recent when Her Honour, Catherine Holmes was appointed in 2015.

I could continue on!

Today, we have many influential women who inspire and lead the way for others simply by their dedication and hard work day in day out.

We have come a long way – from only one practising female solicitor in 1915, to more than 6200 in 2019.

Within Queensland Law Society we have just tipped the scales in our makeup of full members – very fitting for Queensland Women’s Week and International Women’s Day!

We have also reached the tipping point in practising solicitors with 51 per cent of our PC holders in Queensland being female.

But there is – of course – more to be done.

I would like to see more women in leadership positions. There is a practical way to do this with the Society’s Council Election later this year, and expressions of interest in our committees often advertised for members.

We must remember that ‘women hold up half the sky’.

And today, we are here to recognise and reflect on the contributions of women in our profession and across the globe.

Days such as tomorrow are wonderful. BUT equality should be one of our key focuses each and every day.

International Women’s Day provides us the opportunity to think, reflect and act.

It does not matter how far we’ve come, the journey to equality – we must remind ourselves – is never ending.

In reality, every day ought to be women’s day. It is not just merely a concept that we give lip service to and then put back in a box and ignore. Women have lived experience every day of prejudice, of misogyny and of imposed – if sometimes invisible – limitations.

Those who have lead the way – and those who will lead the way – have demonstrated wonderful qualities of tenacity, real leadership, integrity and inclusivity.

We thank you.

And I encourage you to keep pressing on for success, equality and to support one another, as we support you in your career.

I may not be a female working in our profession, but I support our female members and I look forward to a future that is truly equal.