The Edna Awards

Do you know a woman who is making a feminist difference? Nominate her for an EDNA! Edna Ryan (1904–97) worked towards making a better world — especially for women. She had a lifetime involvement in campaigning for equal pay.

The EDNAs are awards for women who have made a feminist difference, i.e. whose activity advances the status of women: the battlers and the unsung heroines who show commitment and determination.

To nominate someone, download this form.

To book a table at the Awards, download this form.

The EDNAs are not awards for long-service or only for those who are well-known. Nor are they simply recognition of women who are successful in their own field.

The Review Panel requires evidence of each nominee’s achievements or actions which have improved the status of women, locally or in the wider society.

Nominees must be comfortable with being called feminist, and live or work in NSW or ACT.

The Edna Ryan Awards will be presented on the evening of Friday 23 October 2015 at Sydney Trades Hall.

 The inaugural Edna Ryan Awards, known as the ‘EDNAs’, were held in 1998, the year following Edna’s death. They were created by a group of her friends and the NSW Women’s Electoral Lobby to honour her life and work, and to acknowledge the contributions other women make in the areas she cared about. They are a celebration of a political life and an affirmation of feminist activists.

Edna was very much involved with WEL and, in particular, the Women in the Workforce group, which she convened. WEL hosted and administered the EDNAs from 1998 – 2010, and the Awards were featured prominently in their Newsletter and on the WEL website.

Over these thirteen years more than 150 Awards have been presented. Among the recipients were high profile women recognised for “feminist activity in the political sphere”, such as Susan Ryan, Anne Summers, Marie Coleman and the four female Senators who initiated the RU486 legislation.

As well, unknown stirrers and battlers have received EDNAs: Suzan Virago, one of the first women employed on the NSW waterfront; Jill Bruneau, who conceived the idea of telling the realities of life as a single mother through art; Julie Bates who founded the first Australian Prostitutes’ Collective; and Tegan Wagner, awarded the Grand Stirrer Award for “inciting others to challenge the status quo”.

Tegan was the victim of a group rape when she was 14 who took the extraordinary step of revealing her identity to urge other victims to speak out, saying that it was the rapists who should be ashamed, not their victims.

Nominees for an EDNA must be comfortable with being called feminist, and must live or work in NSW or the ACT. A panel reviews all nominations, and Awards are presented yearly at an evening social event.

Since 2012 the Awards have been hosted and supported by the Australian Services Union, which in that year won an historic Equal Pay Case for social and community workers across Australia. Recipients regard an EDNA as a badge of feminist honour, one saying “… recognition by my peers is probably the most important thing in the world to me”.