The parliamentary system is the easiest system of power in this country to change, because Australian citizens must vote and can stand as candidates; making your vote and voice count is the key.
So how do we go about ensuring this modest target of equal representation is reached? I have a range of suggestions, to suit any level of political engagement.
Participate in the existing system
The first option is to participate in the existing system of political parties; a system which is biased towards men, because it is a system created by and for men. In Australia up until 1962, positions of power in the political system were not open to:
Indigenous populationsHere are some dates for reference:
Anyone who was not able-bodied
Men under a certain threshold of wealth/employment/education
Renaissance ideas on the individual had taken over Europe by the 17th CenturyIn truth, access to positions of power in Australia for anyone excluded before 1962 has turned out to be mirage. The systems are so old and so biased that we still don’t have proportional representation of any of our major diverse populations in any positions of power. We definitely don’t have the most basic and visible manifestation of proportional representation, gender parity.
Parliamentary Democracy (British Edition): 1707
Industrial Revolution: 1760
Universal Male Suffrage (Britain): starts 1791, full by 1928
Non-Indigenous Male Suffrage (Australia): 1855
Non-Indigenous Female Suffrage (Australia): 1902
Suffrage for Indigenous Australians: 1962
Australian Politics: The Boys Club
Our political system simply cannot cope with diversity of candidates - and that is the fault of the system, not the fault of diversity. Diversity is ever-present and requires systems to improve, not retreat.
Systems are just tools, they should react and change with the user. But our systems are not changing with the population that use them, as evident by under-representation of varied proportions of our population in almost every area of public and private life. The systems are wrong, not the diversity of the population trying to use them.
Australia’s Two-Party System Has Failed Us; Here’s How We Can Fix It by Jane Gilmore at JUNKEE
Join a Political Party
Here are the statistics for equality of representation in the existing political parties:
Australian Greens - 50% female representatives
Australian Labor Party - 40% female representatives due to the work of EMILY's List Australia
Liberal Party of Australia - 21.8% female representatives
Judi Moylan speaking on the history of equal representation in the LNPThe Nationals - 15% female representatives
Sharman Stone speaking on equal representation in the LNP
Christopher Pyne speaking on equal representation in the LNP
Join the Australian Greens and be a participant in the only party with equality of representation in Parliament and in the Party. (I'm a Greens member, it's the best)
Join EMILY's List Australia and the ALP and help them reach equal representation.
Join the LNP and email Sharman Stone each week to let her know she has support in helping them to reach equal representation.
Establish a Political Party
The second option is to form a political party that works within the existing system. This party should have policies focused around the needs of women in Australia.
Start the Women's Equality Party in Australia. Email the Women's Equality Party UK and ask to be the founder of the party here.
If you would support an Australian Women's Equality Party, but cannot be the founder, email Women's Equality Party UK anyway (they are lovely) so if someone volunteers, they know that there will be support for the party in Australia.
If you know someone in Australia who would make a great founder, email them every week and ask them if they have ever considered Founding the Women's Equality Party Australia?
A national political party advocating for women? It's time by Jane Gilmore at Women's Agenda
Think about social media and how connected women’s groups are, and how easy it would be to reach out to your base. Think about the Country Women’s Association and how terribly the regional areas are treated by Canberra.
Think about the (so far) 52 women killed this year, the pay gap getting worse, the gender disparity in our national leadership and how no one in our current parliament appears even slightly interested in genuine action on those things.
Find a Mentor for a Political Party
Consider all the retired female politicians in Australia. Email them and ask them if they will help found the Women's Equality Party, especially as mentors or policy developers.
Work outside the existing system
BUT IF TRYING TO FIX A BROKEN SYSTEM DOESN'T APPEAL TO YOU, maybe you would be interested in these ideas ...