Labor luminary and pioneering feminist Susan Ryan has died age 77.
Ms Ryan served in the Hawke government and was responsible for landmark sex discrimination and affirmative action laws.
After being elected to one of two newly created ACT senate seats in 1975, she became the first female minister of a federal Labor government.
I am shocked and saddened that we have lost feminist hero and Labor giant, Susan Ryan. Every Australian’s life has been improved by her leadership on gender equality. She blazed the trail for Labor women, including me. I honour a woman of courage and true believer.
— Julia Gillard (@JuliaGillard) September 27, 2020
Ms Ryan was elevated to the frontbench after Labor’s 1977 election loss and in 1979 women’s affairs was added to her responsibilities.
She introduced a private member’s bill to ban discriminatory acts based on gender or marital status in 1981 then became education minister and minister assisting the PM on the status of women when Bob Hawke came to power in 1983.
Her sex discrimination bill passed later that year.
She stayed in parliament for 12 years before quitting after being demoted in 1987.
Ms Ryan remained in public life, with appointments as Australia’s inaugural age discrimination commissioner and later disability discrimination commissioner.