Greater representation of women in public spaces takes another step forward

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

Queensland’s young women and girls will soon be able to see what they can be with the Palaszczuk Government delivering on a commitment of greater representation of women in public statues and monuments.

Attorney-General and Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman today (9 April 2022) announced funding of $35,000 towards a bronze statue of pioneering Australian geologist and astrobiologist Dr Abigail Allwood that will be installed outside the Brisbane Planetarium.

“Having strong representation of female role models is essential in achieving gender equality,” Minister Fentiman said.

“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 for young girls everywhere, then we are helping to show young girls that they can do anything.

“I am proud to announce that the Palaszczuk Government is providing this funding to Women in Technology (WiT) to install a bronze statue of Dr Abigail Allwood outside the Brisbane Planetarium.

“I couldn’t think of a better role model for the hundreds of girls who visit the Brisbane Planetarium each year on school excursions and visits with their families to look up to.

“This statue would not have become a reality if it wasn’t for ten-year-old Malia Knox who has been advocating for a statue of Abigail Allwood for the past year, working with Statues for Equality, WiT and raising $20,000 through her GoFundMe page.”

Dr Allwood is a geologist and astrobiologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, focusing on the detection of life on other planets and the evolution of life on early Earth. Dr Allwood is also the first woman and the first Australian to be a principal investigator on a Mars Mission.

While visiting the Sherwood Arboretum in 2020, then eight-year-old Malia Knox asked her mother Kelley Knox why all the plaques at the central promenade were for men. After further research Malia could only find three statues of women in Brisbane, this sparked her 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 this statue a reality.

“I feel really sad that in every park and playground I go to I am only seeing pictures, plaques and statues of men,” Malia said.

“When I am only seeing men, I start to feel like men are more important than women. I know this isn’t true but this is what I’m seeing everyday so it’s hard not to believe it.

“Young girls like me need to be SEEING strong female models when they are playing in the park so that they can learn about them and be inspired by them.

“As part of my project, I compiled a list of inspiring women that I want to see honoured in our public places.

“And I’m so excited that other young girls like me will be able to come to the Planetarium and learn about the story of Abigail Allwood.”

Board Director, Bec Langdon said Women in Technology is thrilled to be working with Malia to bring her vision to life through the statue of Abbigail Allwood at the Brisbane Planetarium.

“For 25 years, Women in Technology have been a connected community to advance, connect and empower women in all areas of STEM,” Ms Langdon said.

“Creating highly visible statues of incredible women role models displays the endless possibilities for future generations. With passionate youth like Malia, the future is bright.”

Minister Fentiman said funding of the statue was a clear sign the government was serious about delivering on its commitment for greater representation of women and girls in public spaces.

“When Malia Knox presented her petition to the Queensland Parliament in 2020 calling on more statues and monuments dedicated to women, I was inspired by her tenacity and proud of her determination to see change for her generation of young girls,” she said.

“That is why we took action to amend the Queensland Government Framework for Considering Proposals to Establish Memorials and Monuments of Significance in March 2021.

“The amendments were made to the framework to ensure submissions for proposed monuments or memorials on State Government land will need to include a response advising consideration of inclusion and diversity principle.

“We’re investing in this statue to inspire others across Queensland to do the same because there are so many incredible women deserving of this type of recognition.

“Just last week we launched our new Queensland Women’s Strategy, that sets out our government’s commitment to ensuring women and girls have more opportunities and are front and centre of our plan for economic recovery.

“This is just one way we are delivering on our strategy by celebrating the achievements of women and inspiring young girls, showing them that they can do anything.”

Minister Fentiman said WiT has secured written support from the Brisbane City Council (BCC) to commence procurement of a statue outside the Brisbane Planetarium. Statues for Equality will be co-funding the statue, along with $20,000 raised by Malia’s crowdfunding efforts which was supported by the community and technology company SOCO.

“Malia’s vision will now become a reality, with our funding contribution meaning WiT can begin working with the BCC, Statues for Equality and the Brisbane Planetarium to deliver the statue of Dr Allwood,” she said.

/Public Release. View in full here.