International Women’s Day

March 08, 2011

With March 8 2011 the centenary of International Women’s Day (IWD), I was keen to ask the ALP and Nationals Monaro candidates at the Q and A event in Queanbeyan on IWD about their parties’ efforts to increase the number of women in Parliament, and to find out what proportion of their candidates for the March 26 election are women. I didn’t need to ask The Greens, as I already know that, as always, Greens are standing in all seats and at least 50% of our candidates are women.

I was surprised to learn that neither of the other candidates knew how many of their women members were standing, and dismayed to hear from the Nationals candidate the old “merit-based” line.

Given that more than 50% of the population are women, and comparing that to the small numbers of women around Council tables, in parliaments and in boardrooms, the use of the merit-based argument is unacceptable, as it is in effect saying that women are simply not capable. And it is no excuse to say that there are not enough women coming forward. If this is the case, it is about time we looked closely at the prevailing culture, and took steps to change it.

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