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Edith Dircksey Cowan OBE was an Australian politician, social campaigner an Australian pioneer in several fields. Edith Cowan championed the cause of women and children and was the founder of Children’s Protective Society and the first woman elected to an Australian parliament
Edith Brown was born in Glengarry Station near Geraldton, Western Australia on August 2, 1861. Her parents were Kenneth Brown and Mary Eliza Dircksey née Wittenoom Her mother died in childbirth when she was 7 years old , she was sent to a Perth boarding school run by the Cowan sisters, whose brother James she would later marry.Her family was influential and respected that included both her grandfathers Thomas Brown and John Burdett Wittenoom, and an uncle, Maitland Brown Her father remarried, but the marriage was unhappy and he began to drink heavily.  When Edith was fifteen, her father shot and killed his second wife, and was hanged for the crime. Edith married James Cowan on 12 November 1879 in St George's Cathedral, James was a registrar and master of the Supreme Court he was also appointment in 1890 as Perth police magistrate .She became concerned with social especially with respect to women and children. In 1894 she helped found the Kpooarrakatta Club, a group where women "educated themselves for the kind of life they believed they ought to be able to take". She became the club's president . the Karrakatta Club became involved in the campaign for women's suffrage, successfully gaining the vote for women in 1899
Edith became very active in women's organisations and welfare organisations, serving on a number of committees.Edith was concerned with women's health disadvantaged children and prostitutes She helped form the Women's Service Guilds in 1909 and was a co-founder of the Western Australia's National Council of Women, serving as president from 1913 to 1921 and vice-president until her death.In 1916, she became Freemason, admitted to the Australian federation of Droit Humain.
Edith believed that children should not be tried as adults so she founded the Children's Protection Society. In 1915, she was appointed to the bench of the new court and held this position for eighteen years. In 1920, she became one of the first female Justices of the Peace.
Western Australia passed legislation allowing women to stand for parliament in 1920,. At the age of 59, she stood as the Nationalist candidate for the Legislative Assembly seat of West Perth  . She won a surprise victory, ironically defeating the Attorney General, Thomas Draper, who had introduced the legislation that enabled her to stand. She championed women's rights in parliament, pushing through legislation which allowed women to be involved in the legal profession.Edith was one of the first to promote sex education in schools,she lost her seat at the 1924 election and failed to regain it in 1927 
Edith Cowan was a founder of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society in 1926 She was very active in planning the State's 1929 centenary celebrations. Until her final illness she maintained her committee's and social work. .Edith died on 9 June 1932 and was survived by her husband she was buried in the Anglican section of Karrakatta cemetery
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