Winner 2017: Eve Currie
Name: Eve Currie
Community, State: Bathurst, NSW
School: Denison College of Secondary Education Bathurst High Campus
Age, Grade: Year 12, 18
Bio: Click here
From primary school to Prime Minister, how can we create strong pathways to power for women?
“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not. And the Government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever.”
Julia Gillard’s ‘Misogyny Speech’, since its delivery, has become a poignant icon for female rights in Australia and created an internationally appraised paradigm for working women. It provided an imperative social comment, drawing awareness to discrimination that occurs when government inaccurately reflects the gendered make-up of our society.
The Parliament of Australia boasted that in 2016 “the total number of women in Parliament has risen from 31% to 32%” at a time when women comprised 51% of the total population. In order to create strong pathways to power for women, our political system must mirror our society, in gender, affluence and cultural diversity.
Redressing the imbalance of reflective representation within our government is the first step in creating gender equality in Australia; until we achieve this, the possibility for young women to aspire to leadership roles is significantly impaired. The next step is evolving the current governmental structure to accommodate parliamentarian women like Kate Ellis who, despite success in their career, must forego their positions to raise a family.
Despite Ms Gillard being our first female Prime Minister, she was condemned by many influential social commentators, not only for her politics but also for her dress, voice and partner. She was subjected to comments that would never have been made about her male counterparts. They sent a very clear message to the women of Australia. ‘You will never be regarded professionally in the same manner as a man.’ These comments spoiled our opportunity to celebrate and relish the significance of our first female Prime Minister and because of this, we lost one of the greatest beacons of hope for young Australian women.
We must acknowledge the evolution in diversity and equitable access to higher office that has occurred over the last couple of generations and continue to spur this into the future when the Australian government is a mirror image of Australian society.
Reflective representation of Australian society in the makeup of our parliamentary system is crucial in creating pathways to power for Australian women; then perhaps our next female Prime Minister will be judged based on her ability to make policy and run the country rather than her appearance.