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