The Women for Election Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group is a non-partisan initiative, to redress the gender imbalance in political representation across all of Australia’s parliamentary chambers; from Canberra to our local council chambers. This group will bring together female and male champions from across party lines and states to show support for the work WFEA is doing out in the community
Senator Claire Chandler, Liberal senator and Co-Chair of our Parliamentary Friendship Group answered a few key questions about being a woman in Australian politics.
How did your political journey start?
I’ve always had a keen interest in politics; growing up we always watched the news as a family, and my parents encouraged me to ask questions about current affairs and think about how the world works. This interest developed more when I studied at the University of Tasmania and joined the Young Liberals. Joining a party which aligned with my values seemed like the best way to develop that interest even further; I saw it as a chance to gain some first-hand experience into what a life in politics could potentially look like.
What do you want to achieve by being a founding member of the Parliamentary Friends of Women for Election Australia?
I want to see an increase in the number of women both running, and being elected to Australian parliaments. I’ve always been a strong believer that, as policy makers, our decisions will be better informed by ensuring more women are at the table to make those decisions.
As a founding member of the Parliamentary Friends group, I’m hoping to leverage my experience in leading reviews of both the federal Young Liberals and the Tasmanian Liberal Party to support more women to get involved in politics and run for elected office at all levels of government.
As a woman, what is the worst misogyny you have faced in your career (be it political or otherwise)?
Some of the abuse I’ve received for advocating for women’s sex-based rights has been horrific, and it’s clearly designed to try and intimidate women not to talk about these issues. Seemingly, some people believe that it is either humorous or a legitimate political tactic to target abusive and threatening vitriol online at women they disagree with.
What would you change for women who want to run for public office in Australia?
In my experience, the greatest inhibitor for women running for office is not having the confidence to stick their hand up, which I think is a symptom of not feeling like they have the support to do so. Political parties of all persuasions need to ensure more women are supported into these roles, where they can be nurtured to grow in experience and confidence to run. We can do this by offering mentoring, getting women more involved in Party organisations, and ensuring women are equipped with the necessary skills for a successful political career.