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About Us

Since 1920, Graduate Women Victoria has assisted the careers of Victorian postgraduate and undergraduate students through its annual awards of scholarships and bursaries.

Our History

Our association was founded in 1920 as an association of women graduates who were inspired by the foundation of the International Federation of University Women earlier in the same year.  AFUW Victoria joined associations of women graduates in other states to form the Australian Federation of University Women, now known as Australian Graduate Women. Something of the history of the early years can be learned from a short history of the association (see right) put together in 1961 by the then president, Phyllis Ashworth.

The founders of the association shared a common goal of promoting understanding and friendship amongst university women of the world, irrespective of their race, nationality, religion or political opinions. They wished to encourage women to apply their knowledge and skills to the problems arising at all levels of public life and to encourage their participation in the solving of these problems. The association’s logo, The Lamp and the Flame, symbolises these aims.

Our Constitution

We still endorse the aims of our founders today. In the words of our Constitution we advocate:

  • the right of women and girls to education in order to reach their full potential;

  • education as a means of influencing and benefiting society;

  • the recognition and protection of human rights; and

  • peace, justice and equality.

To contribute to these goals, Graduate Women Victoria:

  • conducts a scholarship program and other educational activities for women;

  • advocates for the protection and extension of women’s rights and human rights generally in the public arena;

  • provides opportunities for graduate women to share knowledge and interests; and

  • co-operates with other organisations with similar aims.

The Lamp and the Flame

Artist Jenni Mitchell designed Graduate Women Victoria’s logo. The purple lamp with the green flame is based on the IFUW logo designed in 1924, which shows an antique lamp representing the light of learning on a blue background. Around the central disc was an interlinked chain symbolizing the bonds of friendship linking IFUW members throughout the world. The chain was later dropped and the lamp came to be known as the lamp of friendship.

For Graduate Women Victoria, the lamp signifies both meanings:  the body of the lamp represents the cooperative efforts of women and the green flame represents the light of knowledge these efforts produce. The flame rises upward, to show the spread of knowledge in the world.

The purple, green and white colours were chosen in honour of the early feminists who campaigned for votes for women in Britain before World War 1. They chose purple to represent dignity and that self-reverence and self-respect which renders acquiescence to political subjugation impossible; white for purity in public as well as private life; and green for hope of a new spring tide in women’s history.

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