Increasing female representation in politics: A top down approach to gender issues across Australia

Kyle attended the 2017 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 61st session representing the University of South Australia. Kyle is studying a Bachelor of Arts - International Relations with a Bachelor in Social Work.

Abstract

While roughly 50% of the Australian population is made up of women, the number of women in Australian politics is significantly less. Not only does a government comprising mostly of men not accurately represent the Australian community, it also runs the risk of not putting forward issues that matter to women. Furthermore, women approach issues in a different way to men, providing different perspectives based on their values, concerns and experiences, which ultimately provides a new insight on current issues (UN Women, 1995. p. 120). Therefore, it is imperative to have the input of both men and women in Australian parliament. This fact is summarised succinctly and clearly by the Youth for Technology Foundation (2013), who states “no government can claim to be democratic until women are guaranteed the right to equal representation”.

Former Prime Minister John Howard recently stated at the National Press Club in Canberra that gender equality in Parliament is unrealistic due to the fact that women are often hindered in the pursuit of a political career because of family and caring responsibilities (McIlroy, 2016). While family responsibilities may be a key reason as to why women are less likely to pursue a career, political or otherwise, this should be seen as an obstacle that needs to be overcome, not an inherent aspect of life that cannot be altered. Three recommendations will be put forward in this paper as a means of overcoming such obstacles, in order to ensure that women are in a position to run for political office.

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