Historical information

Mary Owen OAM (1921-2017) purchased this dress in 1975 in Mexico while attending the first World Conference on Women and wore it to the reception there. A dedicated feminist, unionist and activist, she was a vocal campaigner for the empowerment of women, particularly in the fight for equal pay. Mary's involvement in activism began in 1966 when she joined the staff of the Association of Architects, Engineers & Draughtsmen (AAESDA), where she was responsible for advertising, layout and proofreading editorial for its journal 'Blueprint'. Her contact with the union awoke an interest in women's rights in the workplace, and in 1969 after she joined Dr Bertram Wainer's Progressive Reform Party, which advocated for legalised abortion. She joined the Women's Electoral Lobby in 1972 and remained an active member for over forty-three years, representing the WEL on many government committees. She was a founding co-coordinator of the Working Women's Centre Melbourne from 1975 until 1986, a founding member of EMILY's List Australia, an early member of the Melbourne Press Club and an early supporter of the Australian Women's Archives Project. An annual Mary Owen Dinner was held in her honour for twenty years from 1986 until 2007, which brought together hundreds of women each year. Mary was awarded the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and the Order of Australia Medal in 1984. She was added to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2001.

Physical description

Red, white and black cotton halter neck dress with rows of pin tucking on the bodice and applied horizontal strips of red and black cotton and black lace to the skirt.

Inscriptions & markings

Label, woven black on white acetate, centre back: Disenado con carino por / GEORGIA CHARUHAS / HECHO / EN MEXICO Label, woven black on white acetate, centre back: Gerorgia's / BOUTIQUE LAS MARIPOSAS / Designer: / Georgia Charuhas / MERIDA YUCATAN, MEXICO