Winning for Women

A Personal Story

Monash University Publishing
Iola Mathews
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A new edition of this acclaimed biography of a key player in the fight for women’s rights in Australia.

‘It is only with an understanding of the past we can create a better future. A must-read for anyone aspiring to make their own impactful change.’ — Julia Gillard

What was it like to be involved in the heady days of 'second wave' feminism in Australia, when the role of women at home and at work changed decisively? Iola Mathews was one of the founders of the Women's Electoral Lobby, a journalist at The Age, and later a leading ACTU advocate for women workers during the 'Accord' with the Hawke-Keating Government. She was one of the first generation of women trying to 'have it all' with a career and children.

In this honest and revealing memoir, she takes us inside the day-to-day groundwork required to bring about reforms in areas like affirmative action, equal pay, superannuation, childcare, parental leave and work-family issues. This is an important record of a pivotal time for women in Australia's history. Iola brings wisdom and experience to it, reflecting on where we are today, with suggestions for further reform. It's a vital source for policy makers and all those interested in women, work and families. 

This new edition includes a foreword by historian Michelle Arrow, who discusses the reforms made by the Albanese government around women such as paid parental leave, superannuation and domestic violence.

‘She has written an invaluable record of the ways the Accord worked to advance women’s rights, an important reminder that the women’s movement was a struggle fought on many fronts.’ —  Michelle Arrow

'Iola Mathews has written a fascinating insider account of how she battled for major reforms for women, especially during her time at the ACTU, where she won landmark cases on parental leave and wage justice for child care and clerical workers. It is so important to know the stories behind these historic victories.' — Anne Summers

'Iola's story shows what can be achieved when passionate people commit to changing the rules and fighting for fairness. Her story shows the best qualities of the union movement — people working to make life better for others and to pursue equality and fairness. A great story of a moment of immense change for working women in Australia, and of the people in the movement who made that change possible.' —Sally McManus

Contributor Bio

Iola Mathews is an author, co-founder of the Women’s Electoral Lobby, and a former journalist at The Age. Later she worked at the ACTU as an industrial officer and advocate, specialising in women’s employment, for which she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal. She was the advocate in the parental leave case and equal pay cases for child care workers and clerical workers. More recently, she established writers’ studios in the National Trust property ‘Glenfern’ in East St Kilda. She lives in Melbourne with her husband, Dr Race Mathews.

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