The Dawn Chorus exists to provide a platform for young (and not so young!) Australian feminists to comment on and analyse the issues that affect us – sex, pop culture, health care, politics, relationships, publishing, sport, the media and beyond – from a feminist perspective, however we may choose to define it.
We chose the name ‘The Dawn Chorus’ for a number of reasons (because us birds are singing loud and proud about what matters to us, for one!), but mainly to honour the incredible efforts of Louisa Lawson (1848 – 1920). In many circles Louisa is best known as “the mother of poet Henry Lawson”, but she was also (and perhaps more importantly) a tireless campaigner for women’s rights. In 1888 she singlehandedly founded The Dawn, a monthly journal produced by women, for women, which was distributed across the nation and even overseas. At the peak of its success The Dawn employed a staff of ten women, and the journal was published, monthly, for seventeen years until 1905. The Dawn Press helped the NSW Women’s Suffrage League print pamphlets and posters during the push to give Australian women the vote, and Louisa was introduced to NSW parliament as “The Mother of Suffrage in New South Wales” after the Women’s Suffrage bill was passed in 1902.
But chances are you’ve heard the term “the dawn chorus” before, used to describe the morning song of our feathered friends. In ornithological terms, the dawn chorus is considered by many to be the most important ‘conversation’ in the daily business of birds; in fact, many ornithologists consider the dawn chorus a battle cry, issued as birds wake up and fight each day for shared territory.
We are continuing the daily battle cry of Australian women that was begun on the dawn of women’s rights, and will continue every day until all Australians, regardless of gender – or race, sexual preference or socioeconomic standing – are truly equal.
Until that day, and beyond it, we will continue to sing our hearts out.