26 September 2023

Female statues to help close inequality

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The Department of Justice and Attorney-General is working towards having a greater representation of women in public statues and monuments.

Funding of $35,000 has been provided towards a bronze statue of pioneering Australian geologist and astrobiologist, Abigail Allwood which is to be installed outside the Brisbane Planetarium.

Attorney-General and Minister for Women, Shannon Fentiman said having strong representation of female role models was essential in achieving gender equality.

“I always say ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, and if we can honour women’s achievements and have them on display everywhere, then we are helping to show young girls that they can do anything,” Ms Fentiman said.

“I couldn’t think of a better role model than Dr Allwood (pictured) for the hundreds of girls who visit the Brisbane Planetarium each year on school excursions and visits with their families.”

She said the statue would not have become a reality if it was not for 10-year-old Malia Knox who had been advocating for a statue of Dr Allwood for the past year.

Dr Allwood is a geologist and astrobiologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States, her work focusing on the detection of life on other planets and the evolution of life on early Earth.

She is also the first woman and the first Australian selected to be a principal investigator on a Mars Mission.

While visiting the Sherwood Arboretum in 2020, then eight-year-old Malia asked her mother, Kelley Knox why all the plaques at the central promenade were for men.

After further research, Malia could find only three statues of women in Brisbane, sparking an idea to start her project #femalefaces4publicplaces and a Parliamentary petition which attracted almost 800 signatures.

After writing to Dr Allwood in April last year to ask if she would like a statue at the Planetarium and receiving a glowing response, Malia has been working to make the statue a reality.

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