Article: Event to increase women in politics
Article published in The Canberra Times and written by Sally Whyte.
When Licia Heath ran as an independent candidate at the Wentworth by-election last year, she had little idea what she was in for.
Since that “six week crash course” in politics, Ms Heath has become chief executive of Women for Election Australia, an organisation seeking to increase the number of women in politics, across all levels of government and all parties.
Women for Election will run its first Canberra event on November 26, aiming to give women from across the political spectrum the skills and knowledge they need to run for a political position.
Along with personal stories from Liberal Senator Jane Hume and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, participants will also hear all the detail about party preselections, and other processes before actually running.
“We don’t gild the lily,” Ms Heath said, saying that the event covers the less positive experiences as well as the good ones.
Ms Heath said it was important to make a process that is often opaque more transparent.
“All evidence shows women need more information not less, when it comes to stepping forward,” Ms Heath said.
While acknowledging that men also face barriers to understanding how to run for parliament, Ms Heath said women benefit from finding out just how many rejections it takes before being successful.
“On average it takes three times to run before being elected, and that’s the same for a man. Too often we see women saying ‘I’m not ready, I don’t have the skills’.
“We can try and relieve that pressure to say the data says you’re not going to have success the first time but step forward anyway.”
While the major parties have their own internal systems for increasing female representation, Ms Heath said it was important to have a non-partisan event.
While the ACT Legislative Assembly has reached gender parity, Women for Election Australia says women are under-represented across governments across Australia.
The Equip Workshop at Australian National University is being held on November 26.