John Howard is wrong to say women won’t reach equality in politics because they are ‘the carers’. Perhaps Mr Howard should have a look at the Bega Valley local council election for some insight into the percentage of women interested in politics and the public’s response to having women run for these roles.
The former Prime Minister sparked outrage when he addressed the National Press Club last week claiming that women have less “capacity” to enter politics because they are too busy caring for children and will always be outnumbered by their male counterparts.
Since the July election, Australia’s female representation in Parliament has slipped from 42nd in the world to 50th. Women make up just 32 per cent of Australia’s parliament.
Greens senator Larissa Waters has rejected Howard's comments by announcing she was pregnant and was "perfectly able" to continue in her position.
“Let's hope those old-fashioned views go by the wayside and we empower young people and particularly young women to enter politics and to enter the workplace with the equality they deserve," Ms Waters said.
Women entering politics have always dealt with an unreasonable amount of scrutiny and this is something that is also reflected on a local level.
When Kristy McBain first decided to run for council she was a young mother and was constantly asked how she would juggle raising a family and meeting the requirements of her role. A common question for women in politics and yet one that is rarely, if ever, asked of men in the same position.
Four years later – after Ms McBain proved women are more than just ‘carers’ – counting is taking place to find out who will sit on the Bega Valley Shire Council for the next four years and looking at first preferences only then of the nine positions available, six of them would be filled by women.
While Tony Allen has the most amount of first preference votes sitting behind him in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 8th position are Robyn Bain, Kristy McBain, Jo Dodds, Cathy Griff, Liz Seckold and Sharon Tapscott. Mitchell Nadin is 5th and Michael Britten is sitting in 9th. Of course these positions could change significantly with second preferences but what is clear is that in the Bega Valley women are putting their hands up for local government and the public is more than willing to support them in doing more than just “fulfilling the caring role”.
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