100 YEARS, 10 WOMEN, 1000 WORDS
To celebrate International Women’s Day Marie Claire had stories from 10 women who’s lives have spaned 100 years. Everything from a 10 year old to a 100 year old women. I loved this story and wanted to share it. I think it’s also fitting now since Mothers Day is next Sunday. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
100 YEARS, 10 WOMEN, 1000 WORDS
Laughter, tears, courage, compassion – women’s lives can be moving and magnificent. To mark the centenary of International Women’s Day, Marie Claire celebrates extraordinary tales from ordinary Australians – we asked 10 women, 10 years apart, to offer their life story in 100 words.
As told to Julietta Jameson.
Vanessa Lockwood, Aged 10 Student and animal lover. Chatswood NSW
Born in Australia to Indonesian mum and Aussie dad. One brother, two sisters.
Started violin at four. Played folk music like Dad. Dad and brother my favourite musicians. And Miley Cyrus.
Ride bike, dance, swim. Am Girl Guide. Fun because no teachers. Like school. Love reading.
There’s more freedom here than Indonesia, girls can do boy stuff, like play soccer. Lucky to be Australian.
When older will be artist or Prime Minister.
Hope climate change stops because I like polar bears. Have learnt that every day there’s a problem. If you get bothered, you won’t make it. Get over it.
Najeeba Wazefadost, Aged 20 Former refugee. Auburn, NSW
Born Afghanistan. Persecuted by Taliban.
Came to Australia by smuggler boat. Sent to Curtin detention centre. Saw security guards; thought were Taliban with better guns. Finally sent to Tasmania.
Realised what smile was. Got citizenship at 18. Mother and father in tears. Finally, we belonged somewhere. Dad said now that Australia has given us identity, must give back and make it proud. Childhood was bombs, guns, persecution. Australia is about education, freedom, raising my voice.
Have just finished medical science degree.
Definitely want to get married and have kids some day. Proud they will have better childhood than me.
Michelle Singer, Aged 30 Journalist, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Only girl, eldest of five, born the year John Lennon died. Wore shorts every day through school. Was happy, sporty tomboy.
Knew wanted to be journalist from 14. Worked in clothing store and forced to wear their clothes; all too small for me. Skipped meals, became addicted to laxatives. What a waste of time. Now love my life.
Passionate about sport, cooking, reading, shoes, triathlons. Love job.
Relationship was long-distance for three of five years. Broke up last year. Rode my bike through Europe in recovery. Realised break-up was mistake somewhere between Paris and Bordeaux. Now getting married. Happy. Finally.
Tanya Hosch, Aged 40 Indigenous policy advisor, consultant to government and business on Indigenous Affairs. Adelaide SA
Relinquished for adoption at three weeks. New family fun, loving. Crazy sense of humour. Well-behaved child. Liked expensive trinkets and clothes. Had horse.
At school read horribly racist graffiti. Lit something in me. Decided doing right thing more important than popularity.
At 19 lost sister, niece and nephew in car accident. Realised life was short. Hard lesson. In work, help link good people with good opportunities. Wish had resources to do more.
Daughter Marley has brought greatest joy. Hope I can be someone she respects.
Am work in progress, trying to reach human potential. Believe it’s possible to change world.
Jennifer Westacott, Aged 50 Partner in charge, sustainability, climate change and water, KPMG. Sydney NSW
Raised in housing commission. Chronically shy, which nobody believes. Shared room with grandmother. Went to university with her too. Uncle was Changi prisoner with no concept of boundaries for girls. Took me rock fishing to teach me bravery.
First woman director housing department, education department. Too often only woman in room.
In relationship 22 years. Don’t see enough of him. Live in airline lounges. Best friends Qantas, hotel staff. No kids. Conscious decision. Not fair on kids.
Proudest achievement: with others, stopped land clearing in NSW. Some say wasn’t enough; I say small steps. Insisting on perfection just doesn’t work.
Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, Aged 60 Acting director, Ri(Aus), former MP and minister. Adelaide SA
Born in London. Reasonable student.
Mother made it clear I was lucky, had community service obligation. At 12, taught disabled children.
Came to Australian 1970’s; taught pathology at university. Planned to stay a year.
Had fight with local council, decided to go work them out. Became Adelaide’s Lord Mayor. Lucky. Became minister immediately.
Have supportive spouse. Sons now 20, 22. They might complain I wasn’t always available. But they’re independent; not bad thing.
Lost last election. Kept self-respect, reputation. Never thought I would be politician. Great experience. But one moves on. In life, have to learn to be flexible, resilient.
Marilyn Jones, Aged 70 Prima ballerina, mother of two. Blue Mountains NSW
Born to house painter, housewife. Liked dolls. Frightened of spiders; still am.
Started dancing at six to lengthen Achilles. London at 16. Nine months with royal Ballet. Homesick. Principal with Borovansky Ballet. Was 21. Had doubts. Had boyfriend, almost engaged. Maybe life was in Newcastle.
Went to Paris instead. Danced with Nureyev. Promoted to étoile: star. Danced with Australian Ballet. Had Stanton. Motherhood and performing tiring. Had Damien. both went into ballet. Proud.
Marriage collapsed. Retirement performance got standing ovation. Thought, people do like me. Would like to have remained married; at least we’re still friends. Independence is important.
Shirley Chenu, Aged 80 Homemaker. volunteer and golfer. Subiaco WA
Born during depression, school during war. Dad provided stable household. Wasn’t aware of being poor. Remember rationing, mother kitting socks, father a volunteer fireman.
Did commercial course. Worked in London, Canada, hitched lift to Los Angeles. Never felt adventurous, probably was.
At 23 met husband at dance. Raised two sons. Low point, mother dying month before youngest was born.
Regrets? Like Frank Sinatra had few, but life mostly good.
Volunteer caddying blind golfers, reading talking books. You don’t appreciate fitness till old age takes it away. Resent that, but life goes on; been blessed.
Beryl Grant, Aged 90 Nursing educator and pioneer. Daglish WA
Was five when father died, 14 when mother died – breast cancer. Had to leave school. Wanted to be teacher but couldn’t afford education. Mentor got me into nurse training at 21. Became nurse educator. Many I taught stay in touch and tell me what an influence I was.
Never married. Lost love in WWII; still wear ring. Faith is important. Not feminist, but believe women should never be put down.
Live alone, still drive. Worked till 60 – wasn’t very well paid. Lots of volunteer work till into 80s. Now live on pension. But am happy woman – so a rich woman.
Helen Cassimatis, Aged 100 Homemaker, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Baulkham Hills NSW
Born in Greece, in olive grove. Married Spiros for love. Was promised to another. Liked him, but liked Spiros better. Had good life. Even thought were poor, Spiros would go to Athens and buy me nice hat and shoes.
Spiros came to Australia 1950. Alone 10 years with three children. He wrote. Made nine pounds a week, sent us eight. Loved Australia. Did not miss Greece. Owned milk bar. Spiros got sick. Slept close to him. He’d say “Arent’ you afraid to be close to a dying man?” I’d say, “No”. I will miss him as long as I’m alive. What would yours say? Note: I would have linked the article directly from their site, however an online copy didn’t seem to be available. Thanks again to Marie Claire