A spotlight has been turned on the number of women across Australian states who have a place in state cabinets.
The Northern Territory unveiled its new ministry this week and it is pleasing to see that this is a majority-female cabinet. Six of nine members in this cabinet are women. That is something of a record in Australia. Victoria is the only other state which also boasts a majority of female cabinet members. (55%)
At the federal level, the figures regarding women’s representation in cabinet are much lower.
‘Women for Election’ is an organisation working to get more women into public office at all levels, but this is not yet reflected in either corporate boardrooms or state cabinets.
It has been shown that women bring a more collaborative working environment, much broader policy implementation, fewer wars, less corruption, and a culture change encouraging greater trust in both our politicians and the democratic process.
While in many countries we are seeing more women taking on leadership roles and higher positions in government, Australia’s figures indicate we are reversing that trend. Those that do succeed in Australia tend to come from a narrow background of white privilege. This does not reflect the diversity within our communities.
Political parties themselves, according to a recent study by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership and the Westminster Foundation, are the greatest barrier towards choosing women as their candidate. At the selection stage women face a bias towards female candidates and they are often placed in unwinnable seats.
It has also been shown that quotas, if applied fairly and correctly, can improve women representation.
That lack of diversity at senior levels of government impacts on women’s issues in particular, as men in leadership positions have had little or no experience around women’s health issues, public schooling, personal experience of Centrelink, housing issues…these issues are a long way from the life experiences of those men in cabinet running those portfolios.
Choosing women from diverse backgrounds at the highest levels of government will benefit all parts of the wider community. Equal representation brings the lived experience of women to the table…..after all, they are 50% of the population.
Ref: Women’s Agenda
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