MEDIA RELEASE: International Women's Day Message from Women Parliamentarians

Members of Parliament will celebrate International Women's Day this week in Sydney and with their communities, taking the opportunity to recognise local women as part of the Local Women of the Year awards.

NSW Parliamentary Representative to the Australian Region of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Jenny Aitchison MP said "It was good to see so many women MPs working together from all parties to celebrate women at a variety of events around the State, but there is still more to do."

Ms Aitchison said that “While the percentage of Women in the Legislative Assembly of the NSW Parliament (Lower House) rose to an all-time high of 30.1% at the 2015 Elections, women’s representation had been steadily dropping in the Legislative Council (Upper House) since 2003.”

“We need to do more to increase the participation of women in leadership, not just in the Parliament, but across the community” said Ms Aitchison.

In ASX 200 companies, only 1 in five directorships are held by women and business owners in NSW are more than twice as likely to be men as women.

“Until we achieve equality in leadership positions we will be unable to fully address inequality in other key areas including health and wellbeing, education and learning, work and financial security and safety and justice.”

In a Private Member’s Statement, Ms Aitchison said the importance of diversity in the Parliament and in community leadership was highlighted by speakers at the International Women’s Day breakfast at Parliament House organised by Greens MLC Dr Mehreen Faruqi.

Speakers Nakkiah Lui and Randa Abdel-Fattaah challenged women to consider race, ethnicity, ability, sexuality and other areas of discrimination in their quest for equality, and to ensure that diverse voices were heard in feminist discussions.

Ms Aitchison said “The intersectional experience of discrimination is far greater than just sexism, racism or other forms of discrimination on their own and is becoming more widely discussed in feminist discourses. This was explored in depth at the Conference convened by Anne Summers last year 40 years after her groundbreaking book “Damned Whores and God’s Police” was published.” Ms Aitchison said the role of Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians was to advocate for all women in leadership both in the Parliament and across the community.

“As Women Parliamentarians we are uniquely placed to hold discussions with women across the community on issues of gender inequality, to promote women from diverse backgrounds and to ensure their voices are heard.”

“This year in NSW, the CWP will be working on strategies to engage young women in leadership programs, specifically through the Parliamentary Education Units programs, and through a special event for young women leaders at Parliament House and through the introduction of Male Champions of Change with male MPs.”

“Most importantly, women MPs will continue to work towards equality in their electorates to improve the quality of life for all women in our state.”

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