Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Women In Politics: Let's reach another milestone in the September 2013 Australian Federal Election

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010 

The proportion of federal parliamentarians who are women has risen markedly over the past 20 years. On 1 January 1986, one in twenty members of the House of Representatives were women (5%) rising to more than one in four (27%) by the beginning of 2008. Similarly, close to one in five senators were women in 1986 (18%) rising to more than one in three in 2010 (36%) (AEC 2009; Parliament of Australia 2010b).

In the federal government ministry, as at the end of June 2010, there were nine female ministers and parliamentary secretaries (representing 23% of ministers and parliamentary secretaries), including the Prime Minister The Hon Julia Gillard MP and a further three who were Cabinet members. Around 17% of shadow ministerial and parliamentary secretary positions were held by women (Parliament of Australia 2010b).  

When she announced her new ministry last Monday, Julia Gillard made history. For the first time, women make up one-third of the Australian government. Although the cabinet remains unchanged, the promotion of three women into the ministry has radically altered the gender balance of the government.
There are four women, including Gillard, in the 20-member cabinet which in itself is a record (and the numbers were even better before the resignation of Nicola Roxon as attorney-general this year).
But it is the outer ministry where the radical change has occurred. Gillard promoted three women: Sharon Bird, Catherine King and Jan McLucas. This means that six of the 10 members of the ministry are women. That's 60 per cent. That's unprecedented in Australia.

L–R: Penny Wong, Tanya Plibersek, Jenny Macklin, Julia Gillard, Kate Lundy, Kate Ellis, Julie Collins
Australian Prime Minister with some of the federal ministers

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