Image courtesy of Jaime Serrano at Unsplash.com
Australia prides itself on an early lead in implementing the right to vote for women.
This was just one step among many towards democracy in Australia.
The next step is equal gender representation.
Establishing full voting rights for women was hard-won and took many decades to accomplish.
The next step is to ensure equal gender representation as part of the normal evolution of representative government. Our aim is to add to the impetus for change to take place.
Mary Wollstonecraft Chap. IX. Of the Pernicious Effects Which Arise from the Unnatural Distinctions Established in Society. 1792
We are not party political at all. We draw on sources from different aspects of politics and aim to provide an objective critique of various party efforts. We started as a group of academics interested in the issue of equal gender representation in parliament. We set out exploring the available options to address that issue.
Our thinking is that equal gender representation can be seen in at least three ways:
- as an issue of ensuring a properly functioning democracy,
- as a matter of democratic right - interestingly enough, for both men and women, and
- as an important giant leap towards cultural change.
Of course, we know that power and culture are intertwined. So, some of us say - 'equal gender representation is only a part of a much bigger journey towards gender equality and may not change much (at least immediately) for the lives of women.' We get that.
We also understand that others may see the paths of quotas or targets and other mechanisms as the way to go - even though this will possibly take a long time and is likely to happen unevenly between the major parties.
There is no constitutional barrier to amending the Electoral Act to achieve equal gender representation. We document how others, from both sides of politics, have proposed both male & female representation for electorates before - both in Australia and the United Kingdom. What is interesting is how little traction this idea has achieved in the past. It is just unthinkable.
Out task then is to take people on a journey beyond what they think, to what they could imagine.
We want to make equal gender representation a reality. It is worth debating how best to achieve this. We present a model of changing the Electoral Act.
We are looking for new partners and collaborators.
Initial founding members
Assoc Prof Tony Krone University of Canberra
Dr Wendy Shelton CPA
Libby Salmon BVSc (USyd) MVS (UniMelb) & PhD Scholar - Regnet School of Regulation and Global Governance ANU
Dr Meredith Salmon Krone