Enough is Enough
Girls and all gender-diverse young people in Australia should be growing up believing anything is possible – that they have choices and opportunities in their lives to shape the world they want to live in. Instead, many are forced to abandon their leadership aspirations out of concern for their own safety in Parliament. And we need these future leaders!
The toxic culture in parliament is not confined to any one party, it’s pervasive. And change isn’t happening fast enough.
In their first campaign for 2021, our Youth Activists (YAS) rallied together to draft a powerful set of recommendations on how to improve the culture in parliament in response to the spate of reports of sexual misconduct, alleged rape, and women being victim-blamed, talked over and side-lined in our national parliament.
Thank you to everyone who joined our call for action from all parliamentarians.
The YAS have highlighted the following specific recommendations that would help ensure that incredible young people like them see a path to leadership.
- Implement policy to ensure that Parliament – and all workplaces, schools and higher education institutions – is a safe and equal space for all women and one free from misogyny and sexual harassment
- Political parties must act urgently to enforce stricter quotas – not just for women, but for all people of different sexualities, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds who represent the diversity of the country we live in
- Governments need to nurture girls’ leadership ambitions and give them a seat at the decision making table through investing in emerging leadership programs in Australian high schools and providing networks and mentorships to girls to become leaders across government, business and civic life
- Standing in solidarity with girls and young women who report sexual harassment and abuse, and ensuring there is an independent and confidential avenue for girls and women to report such incidents
- Ensure no one is forced to choose between leadership and family life, and presenting clear pathways for young women to enter the political sphere
- The appointment of women and people of diverse genders and identities to committees or boardrooms must go beyond mere tokenism – they must be respected and given equal power to their male counterparts
- Creating educational and learning environments for all genders around the meaning of consent, both within Parliament and our educational systems.
We Can Lead
Girls and all gender-diverse young people in Australia should be growing up believing anything is possible – that they have choices and opportunities in their lives to shape the world they want to live in. Instead, many are forced to abandon their leadership aspirations out of concern for their own safety in Parliament.
Sadly, after a spate of reports of sexual misconduct, alleged rape, and women being victim-blamed, talked over and side-lined in our national parliament, women are increasingly disinterested in pursuing political careers. In 2017 Plan International Australia, the charity for girls’ equality, undertook a major research project called She Can Lead, surveying 2,000 Australian girls and young women about their aspirations for the future.
It found 56% of respondents thought female politicians were treated unfairly. Now, in new polling Plan International Australia conducted in April 2021 of 507 young women aged 18-25, that figure has increased dramatically: 73% of young Australian women aged 18-21 do not believe that women in politics are treated equally to men; rising to almost 78% among women aged 22 to 25.