Written by Elise Delpiano - Bachelor of Law/ Arts (International Relations)

Last week I launched a report with Julia Gillard seeking to understand how we can increase female political representation in Australia. The launch of the report could not be more timely in light of the past few weeks’ happenings in politics!

The report was the culmination of the inaugural Julia Gillard Next Generation Internship, organised by EMILY’s List Australia. EMILY’s List is an organisation of progressive women that fundraise and support progressive Labor women get elected to parliaments across the country.

Each year, the Internship will focus on researching a subject in line with EMILY’s List’s five values – equity, childcare, equal pay, diversity and choice.

This year, my task was to research ways Australia can increase its female representation in politics through a comparative study with New Zealand.

I spent four months interviewing female MPs and women involved in politics more broadly to better understand the challenges women face in entering and staying in politics. I also travelled to New Zealand for two weeks to interview female MPs. I was even fortunate enough to meet New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

The women I spoke to recounted a variety of challenges they faced based on gender during their political journey. Some of the treatment was abhorrent and much worse than the general public has been privy to.

I was inspired by the women I spoke with throughout the internship. In particular, a number of women showed incredible resilience and strength in the face of incredibly difficult circumstances.  

My one takeaway? The general public and the media are now taking note of sexism rather than ignoring it. This is a monumental shift from even 5 years ago.

My recommendations included:

  • changing the process for selecting cabinet positions (including considering affirmative action measures);
  • further equipping women with a toolkit for cabinet;
  • changing electoral funding laws to be more supportive of female candidates with childcare responsibilities; and
  • creating a formal mentoring program for female candidates.

Having the opportunity to work as the inaugural Julia Gillard Next Generation Intern has been an incredible experience. The women I have met over the last few months have shown me that despite the current turbulent state of politics, the future looks bright for women.

You can find my report in full here: https://www.emilyslist.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/JGNGI-report-2018-WEB-FINALindd.pdf

Applications for the 2019 Internship are now open. For more information and to apply, please visit: http://emilyslistaus.nationbuilder.com/jgngi_2019_eoi