International Women's Day 2017

21 March 2017

Check against delivery


Madam speaker I rise to speak in support of this statement.

I thank Minister Berry for speaking on this issue and discussing what she and the Government have been doing for gender equality.

Since our last session I have been busy out in my electorate and would like to talk about how these policies will affect women in Yerrabi, and how Yerrabi has been addressing these issues.



Late last year I had the pleasure of meeting some of the young women enrolled at Harrison School. At the time they were approaching college and starting to consider their career paths.

Talking to them about this, I was reminded of the diversity of young women.

Some were interested in becoming writers, others were pursuing careers in engineering, and so we talked about the under-representation of women in STEM. These young women are driven and enthusiastic and it is up to us to support them.

We discussed ways of obtaining leadership roles for women and the importance of mentoring.

It was a matter of personal importance to the students that efforts to increase women’s representation in positions of power are inclusive and intersectional.

It was encouraging to see our young people recognise that gendered discrimination experienced by themselves and others differs when combined with factors such as race, age, ability and ethnicity.


I was also able to attend Gungahlin College’s International Women’s Day Forum with Minister Berry.

We heard students of all genders engage community leaders in debate on how to achieve gender equality, and were able to talk to students before the event.

At one stage a young man enrolled at the school described his confusion at the introduction of women traffic light symbols in Melbourne. He had enquired with a female friend of his who explained the symbolic significance of the change and what it meant to her.

It was incredibly encouraging to see the productive discussion such a seemingly trivial change had generated, and the way our young men are looking to learn about, rather than dismiss, women’s issues.

Earlier that day some of the young women attending Gungahlin College were invited to discuss their thoughts about International Women’s Day with Louise Maher on 666 Canberra.


For these young women, being a woman means experiencing challenges not faced by men. While these girls are aware of structural boundaries for women, it is more often cultural and behavioural expectations that affect them day to day.

Issues they raised included media influence and body image, gender roles, and double standards and contradiction.

They acknowledged the women who have come before them in the fight against the patriarchy, and highlighted the ‘international’ aspect of International Women’s Day.

While they acknowledged Australia’s privileged position internationally, and their privilege within their communities they iterated the importance for international resistance against gender based discrimination and disadvantage.

A young Aboriginal woman at the school expressed that despite her initial reluctance, her privilege within her community put her in a position to lead that she could not ignore.

Another student remarked on her role mentoring her younger peers.

The young women discussed the desire and need to set standards for their communities, which really embodied this year’s theme, Be Bold For Change.

The girls also suggested that support from womens’ groups have helped them to grow into strong leaders.

For these young women, being a woman increases the reward of their achievements. When they can accomplish something that others did not expected to, when they can surprise people and defy expectations they feel stronger and more capable than if they were to just meet the standard.


Later that evening I joined with the Heydon Girl Guides Group. Growing up, I was a Girl Guide, so it was personally significant for me to reflect on what I had learned at my time with the guides and lend support to other young women seeking to serve the public.

We spoke about women as leaders, how to be a leader and smashing the glass ceiling.

We also talked about identifying women leaders in our community, and not just magazines, and women in the Legislative assembly, funnily enough.


All of these young women are leaders in their communities, but they face challenges due to their gender. These challenges differ between individuals and across cultures, so our solutions must be versatile.

Nearly 20 per cent of women in the ACT live with a disability.

3,400 women in the ACT are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Of the women living in the ACT, 12 per cent were born overseas and 9 per cent speak a language other than English.

Yerrabi is a diverse electorate and our women are no exception.


The women who call Yerrabi home have a diverse range of careers, ages, cultures and languages, all bringing together a cross section of the community not seen in other parts of Canberra.

As the member for Yerrabi, our diversity is one of the reasons I am proud to represent our wonderful community.


As Minister Berry touched on, the ACT Government recently conducted consultation on increasing women’s participation in sport.

Since women identified how sports infrastructure in Gungahlin deters them from participating, the Government has been able to investigate solutions.

Simple things such as poor lighting and bathroom facilities are some of the ways in which women are discouraged from using sports venues.

But these issues cannot be resolved unless they are sought out. Listening to our community is integral to being able to serve them and alleviate inequality.

When government actively breaks barriers to women’s contribution to our community, we, and our community can truly thrive.

The ACT Women’s Plan is a long term plan to address many of the issues faced by women in Yerrabi and across the ACT.

‘Equity and well being’, and ‘physical and mental health’ are well identified priorities for women in the ACT.

This year’s International Women’s Day has been about all people taking initiative to become role models for gender equality in their communities.

I have met with young women who exemplify this, and it’s fantastic to see ACT Government leading the way.

While individual attitudes are critical to progressing gender equality, strong, cohesive leadership have the greatest capacity to address systemic issues.

I’m proud to be the local member for the exemplary young women in Yerrabi and look forward to watching as they progress as community leaders.