TShe insists feminist and writer Jane Caro. One Q&A spectator, Sophie, was contemplating a path to politics but expressed some doubts because of “misogynistic comments and issues … surrounding women in parliament”.
Caro didn’t mince words: “Sophie, you have to get into politics. Sorry, you have no choice here. You must. Because the only way we’re going to change this is by having more women in parliament … The reason men get away with this behavior … is because it’s a men’s club and we don’t have enough women in power to make decisions and change this culture . “
His statement was rewarded with the loudest applause of the night. It came from behind Four Corners exposure from the previous week, Inside the Canberra Bubble, which charged senior government men with bad behavior while women were paying the price. A surge of anger is in Caro’s voice, and it’s happening elsewhere: on social media, in media commentary and at work, as women are once again turning gender inequality issues down the corridors of power.
“Every time one of these stories broke, the traffic to our website spiked drastically,” he said Women for Election Australia’s chief executive officer, Licia Heath.
Heath, who ran as an independent in the 2018 Wentworth election, said he had seen a change in taste among women for public office: “There is a tipping point and I believe the #MeToo movement and the bushfires have a part in it. The women moved when they realized that no one had come to save them. And women think, ‘I have to do really well.’ “
Women for Election Australia is one of many organizations across the country that conducts courses for women that essentially mark the road to politics, at all levels of government.
A former mayor and board member and now coach of board members, Ruth McGowan, is one of the women on the front lines of a community pushing for more women, and has written Get Elected, which aims to get more women and a variety of candidates into politics. at the local, state and federal levels. level.
McGowan said she was encouraged by her own experiences on the board and as a manager for her sisters Cathy McGowan’s historic campaign to win an Indi federal seat in 2013: “When I was first elected… I was standing because of an all-male board and I wanted to be the change I wanted to see. For my second term, I encouraged more women to run, so instead of being one in nine we were four women out of nine. I can see the power in encouraging and supporting more women to run. “
He said groups like The lady in Gippsland is being set up to work towards gender equality in government, focusing on community issues and training candidates: “When women are organized, be careful. We are at a tipping point where women say it is our time. We are inspired by international leaders in this field, we are inspired by Kamala Harris and we are inspired by Jacinda Ardern. “
McGowan likes to challenge the many cliches and tropes around why women don’t run for election: “The whole narrative about imposter syndrome is bullshit. How many women in Australia play netball? This is the most popular sport in Australia. Don’t tell me that eight year old in court is not about victory, power and ambition. I don’t believe that women are not naturally competitive. Who has been on the P&F committee at school?
“I think we have a chance for true equality when women are as mediocre as men. Why do we suddenly expect women to be saints? “
McGowan works with many organizations that support women getting selected and says their courses are consistently overloaded by customers. The Women for Election Australia Equip Course is run nationally online and is partially funded by the New South Wales government in an effort to correct the state’s poor record on local government gender diversity (according to McGowan, the the worst in Australia, amounting to 29.5%). In Western Australia He ran The program takes its first “Campaign School” intake this year. That Victorian Local Government Association is kick a goal with Local Women Lead Change Program: Victoria leads Australia in gender diversity in local government, with 43.8% of local government positions filled by women in October’s elections.
The university, too, is working in this area with the Pathways to Politics Program for Women, which starts in University of Melbourne in 2016, expanded to Queensland University of Technology this year, and the University of New South Wales in 2021.
Especially in these programs, the emphasis is on women who support women to get elected. Entrepreneur, philanthropist and Reserve Bank board member Carol Schwartz – who instigated the Pathways program – was pushed into action seven years ago when Tony Abbott’s cabinet included only one woman, Bronwyn Bishop.
“All the data shows that when you have more diversity, and gender diversity in particular, you get much better results,” he said.
“I am eager to see a change in our political institutions where women stand side by side with men, share power and decision-making, so that we as Australian citizens can have reasonable expectations of the best outcome for decision making. process.”
Research by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership shows gender-balanced parliaments create more equal and caring societies, with women prioritizing issues such as health care, welfare and education. But Australia’s ranking 48th in the world for parliamentary gender diversity. Only 36% of Australian parliamentarians are women, although women make up 51% of the population.
Through his family’s philanthropy Trawalla Foundation, Schwartz is working with the University of Melbourne to adapt the Kennedy School From Harvard Square to the Oval Office program, create pathways.
In many cases, older boy networks have paved the way for boys into politics. Through the Pathways program, Schwartz believes women make very important connections: “I know from the previous group that very strong bonds are created through courses … They know they can reach out if there is a problem and they can solve it.”
Schwartz confessed “little to Pollyanna” about hoping the alumni network would change the mood in the federal parliament. “I firmly believe that women are capable of creating a different environment in which decisions are made. Currently we are still tied to institutions created by men, including political parties. Its tone and culture are very male-dominated and women are hooked on it.
“That’s why we need a critical group of women who are starting to gain the confidence to change culture and values because they know they are supported by a strong network of women who believe change needs to happen.”
All this positive thinking is by no means a cover-up course in political life. McGowan said: “We explain reality stands for politics. We know how brutal it is and also how powerful and exciting it can be. This isn’t a knitting club. We are here for politics and if you want to do anything in politics you need power. And to have power, you need ambition. “
According to the Pathways course participants, well-known female politicians from across the political spectrum and from all levels of government open up in generous, honest and inspiring ways. A Pathways fellow, Member of Parliament Victoria for Wendouree Juliana Addison, recalled the very frank depiction of public life provided by former Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs and Senator Jacqui Lambie, who in 2017 were both attacked in parliament and in the media. .
Addison says their honesty helped inspire him to go from being a schoolteacher to a politician: “We have people in the eye of the storm telling us, ‘We’re going to tell you how tough it is, but you just have to do it. The fact that you have raised your hand means you must. ‘To be forewarned means to be armed. And to know that it’s going to be hard for your relationship, it’s going to be tough for your kids, and you’re going to get very, very tired in the end because you put yourself in public scrutiny. “
Addison is now hiring him to mentor Pathways and says he goes to great lengths to help others, regardless of their political affiliation: “I would like to see parliament more representative. What we hope to achieve is that women from across the board with different political views and different perspectives will have the confidence and courage to stand in the public seat, and parliaments will be richer for that. “
Green Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, speaking last week about the latest parliamentary scandal, said women no longer want to be silent as spectators: “Standing up and being more vocal about it in public has created an environment where more and more women come to me and say, ‘I want to be involved and I want to be part of the solution. ‘ “
Hanson-Young said voters, too, told him they wanted more women in politics: “I really believe the community is ahead of the political class on this. Community will ultimately drive change. “
Most importantly, she says, electing more women to power will change the big picture: “It’s not just about making parliament a better, better, more equal place for women to work. If we want a dinkum fair childcare system in this country and if we want a real system of elderly care, it will only happen if we get more women in parliament to fight for it. “
She said the federal budget is an example of what happens in unequal parliaments: “We are in the middle of a pink recession and women are being forgotten. Not only is there no budget for women, but there are even worse impacts for women as a result of this budget.
“If you need a better example of what happens when you don’t have enough women in parliament, this is it.”