Article by Adele Horin cont.

You might not have heard of Helen Westwood - but she has served four terms as mayor of Bankstown, and is now headed to the NSW Legislative Council. In the heart of what is considered troubled macho territory, Westwood initiated the area's Reclaim the Night march, and public forums on sexual assault, and opened the town hall to an international conference on violence against women.

And you might not have heard of Joy Goodsell but for almost 20 years she has run the Sutherland Shire Family Support Service with its primary focus on domestic violence.

Daphne Baxter is no household name, and looks like everyone's grandmother. It turns out, rather to her own surprise, she developed an affinity with computers, and now runs computer literacy courses for older women, who in turn help young schoolchildren.

The four federal women MPs who successfully co-sponsored the bill that ended the power the Health Minister, Tony Abbott, held over the abortion agent RU486 also won "Ednas". Two of them, Democrat Lyn Allison and Labor's Claire Moore, attended, with Allison relating that 2000 women had emailed their thanks to her in the wake of her admission in the Senate that she had had an abortion.

Dorothy Hoddinott, the principal of Holroyd High School, attended by many children from a Muslim background, reminded the audience it was not what girls wore on their heads, but what was inside their heads that mattered - and many would rather die than return to patriarchal societies.

You don't get money or a trophy when you win an Edna - just a certificate from one of the Ryan daughters. But the 21 winners looked as if they had won the lottery. Their speeches were succinct and inspiring, and highlighted the work to be done.

When the finale rolled round, it turned out Tegan Wagner had won the "Grand Stirrer" award for inviting others to challenge the status quo. "Tegan who?" you could hear the audience murmur. Then the penny dropped. She was the remarkable young woman who had revealed her identity as one of the teenage victims of a notorious 2003 pack rape. Following the recent trial, she had said rape victims "should be proud and say 'I stood up, I fought it, and I'm a strong person.' They shouldn't have to hide". She also said, "Have fun in prison, boys. I won."

The audience, including her grandparents, gave her a standing ovation, and when quiet descended, she said, "You might have gathered I've got a big mouth."

Before the night was over, a couple of the older femocrats were talking of organising a committee to raise money for Wagner's education.

In grey times, we all need such a night.