Source: The Mercury, Friday, 9 June, 1995, p.5



Australia failing on
women MPs: report

By KIM SWEETMAN
in Canberra

WOMEN in Bangladesh, Iraq and
Rwanda have a better chance of being
elected to parliament than Australian
women, says a damning UNICEF
report.

Just 8 per cent of Australia's MPs
are women, a lower rate than the
world average and well below most
other industrialised countries.

The parliaments of the world's 22
industrialised countries average 18
per cent women representatives.

One that scale, Australia ranks
18th, ahead of only France, Greece
and Japan.

Australia's record is worse than
many relatively poor countries and
countries with relatively uneducated
populations.

Australian Democrats leader
Cheryl Kernot, the only woman leader
of a federal political party, said the
Australian system did not do enough
for women.

The adversarial nature of Parlia-
ment and the sheer stress of being in
Canberra for half the year turned
many women away from politics.

Senator Kernot said it was aston-
ishing and unacceptable that Aus-
tralia should lag behind Third World
and developing nations in electing
women.

"With all our resources it is aston-
ishing we haven't found a better way
to make our Parliament work," she
said.

When the Senate is taken into
account, Federal Parliament has 14
per cent women.

Of 147 senators, 14 are women, of
76 MHRs 17 are women and of 30
ministers three are women.

Opposition women's affairs spokes-
woman Judi Moylan said it was more
difficult to convince women to stand
for preselection than men.

"Women are not putting themselves
forward," she said.

"They seem to see Parliament as a
terrifying prospect."

Mrs Moylan said quotas for pre-
selecting women such as the ALP's 35
per cent requirement did not work.

It would be better to prepare more
women to stand.

"I do not believe 100 per cent of the
important decisions should be made
by 50 per cent of the population," she
said.


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