Home | Specialty Focus | IWD: 101-year-old Mavis Kohler reflects on a century of women’s rights
VMCH resident Mavis Kohler reflects on a century of women's right. Picture: Supplied/VMCH.

IWD: 101-year-old Mavis Kohler reflects on a century of women’s rights

When Mavis Kohler was born in 1923, women were not allowed to drink in public bars, stand for federal elections, or to work in public service jobs after they were married.

Society has, however, come a long way since then, and Ms Kohler – who turned 101 last month at her VMCH aged care – is thankful she witnessed the shift.

On the eve of International Women's Day (IWD) , Ms Kohler believes the day is an opportunity to reflect on women's struggles over the years, including her time, which included World War II and the Great Depression.

"Women did most of the holding together of the family and house, and we weren't recognised for it," Ms Kohler said.

"Back in my day, women didn't even have a license or drive."

However, Ms Kohler said she got to enjoy more freedom in her 20s than others may have.

While on a holiday in Melbourne from her home in Tasmania, Ms Kohler met her future husband, Bob.

"Fiercely independent", she refused Bob's offer to assist her ice skating or to pay for her tram ride home.

However, Bob's persistence in courting her paid off, and the pair married, with Ms Kohler relocating to Melbourne.

"I was lucky my parents wanted me to experience life," she said.

"Even though my mother wasn't happy when I moved, she didn't tell me or stop me from going."

The couple had two children and were happily married for 72 years before Bob sadly passed away in 2016.

The great-grandmother of two believes society still has a long way to go to ensure true equality for women.

"We need more women in positions that are high up in companies and politics, so they can make a change."

Women make up a huge part of aged care.

Almost 60 per cent of residents in aged care are women, and 72 per cent are carers.

Females at VMCH comprise 71 per cent of aged care residents, 79 per cent of its workforce, and 77 per cent of its volunteers.

VMCH chief Sonya Smart said she was proud to lead an organisation that employs and care for such a large number of women.

"Step into any of our aged care residences or retirement villages, and you will find a hugely diverse group of women who have lived some extraordinary lives," Ms Smart said.

"We have so much to learn from our older generation – who've lived through some extremely challenging times that have shaped them into the resilient and inspirational people they are today."

Ms Smart also said it was important, as a female leader, to help be a catalyst for change.

"At VMCH we have a great representation of female leaders who are natural advocates for women within our workplace.

"Offering flexible working conditions and opportunities for career progression are other ways VMCH tried to minimise those barriers to success.

"I think when we support each other as females, we get a better future for all women in the workforce."

Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the top stories in our weekly newsletter Sign up now

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *