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Virginia Haussegger, ACT AOTY 2019

Journalist and women’s advocate
Australian Capital Territory, 2019 Australian of the Year

Virginia Haussegger is an award-winning journalist and a passionate advocate for women’s rights and gender equality. She is Director of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation at the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, which promotes equal representation in leadership and decision-making roles in government and public administration.

Pussyhat

A bright pink, knitted beanie.
Pussyhat, on loan from Virginia Haussegger, journalist and women’s advocate, Australian Capital Territory, 2019 Australian of the Year

Virginia is passionate about conversations, women’s rights and gender equality. She believes we need to thoroughly understand the background and context of the issues women face today in order to change and move forward.

The Pussyhat is an international symbol of protest, participation and solidarity.

Worn widely during the United States Women’s Marches in 2017, they were a bold visual statement. They also gave those makers unable to attend a way to support the protest.

Author and pioneering feminist Anne Summers knitted this hat as a gift for Virginia.

Tickled pink

When 60,000 pink Pussyhats bobbed up at Women’s Marches across the United States the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, I was ‘tickled pink’, as my dear old dad used to say. To witness a sea of women flipping an insult by reclaiming the word ‘pussy’ as a badge of pride was empowering.

Call-out

I was hosting an International Women’s Day event and, inspired by the sea of pink, I made a call-out on social media to help me find a pink hat. To my absolute delight one of Australia’s great feminist icons, Dr Anne Summers, tweeted that she’d knit me one. It arrived in the mail from New York a week later!

Shoulders of giants

It was a powerful reminder of the spirit of generosity and support that has fuelled the Australian women’s movement across generations. I proudly wear that hat knowing I’m standing on the shoulders of giants and hopefully engaging a new generation in conversation and debate.

This exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in collaboration with the National Australia Day Council. Portrait images courtesy National Australia Day Council.

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