Women in Politics

"As the leader of a political party, I learnt quickly that – despite being the most experienced in the room – I had the double jeopardy of being the youngest and a woman. Older men made quite clear that was an unacceptable arrangement. But I stayed true to my beliefs and principles. I also learnt that appeasement doesn’t work. Numbers do. And we need more women! My advice to women – regardless of age or background – is that our experiences are worthy and legitimate, regardless of how long we have been alive or what we have done. Our diversity and difference deserves to be reflected and represented. I also strongly advise you to have support networks: politics is a hard profession to pursue alone. Like-minded friends and allies are important, not only to support you when things are tough, but to ensure your views are tested and challenged, to make sure you are representing people and their ideas as well as your own. We cannot expect women to be homogenous; in fact, we should hope our different views are represented. But I do expect women to support each other in an environment where they are outnumbered. Gender equality is arguably the greatest human rights challenge of our time: we need you in politics to ensure we achieve it."

First published by Lindsey Stanberry, 9 March 2017, 'The World's Most Powerful Women Share Their Best Leadership Advice'

Australian Senator (1995 - 2008)

Natasha Stott Despoja is both the youngest woman ever to enter the Australian Federal Parliament and the longest-serving Democrat Senator in the party's history.

Throughout her career, Natasha made a contribution to a wide-range of policy debates, including by introducing Private Member's Bills on issues including paid maternity leave, the Republic, genetic privacy and stem cells, data privacy, and audio description and captioning services.

Natasha has an enduring interest in women's leadership, particularly political and parliamentary leadership, and has previous experience as an election monitor in countries such as Nigeria and Cambodia. In 2011 Natasha was made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of her service to the Australian Parliament, to education and as a role model for women.

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