The Women for Election Australia Parliamentary Friendship Groupis 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 Susan McDonald, Senator for Queensland, for the Nationals 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?
Watching local grassroots organisations represent the needs of of our regional places such as AgForce, Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association, and local councils, and realised it was important to have these voices represented in parliament.
What do you want to achieve by being a founding member of the Parliamentary Friends of Women for Election Australia?
As a woman, what is the worst misogyny you have faced in your career (be it political or otherwise)?
Every woman’s journey is different and I can honestly say I’ve never felt my gender has adversely affected my career aspirations. I’ve worked in male dominated industries (accountancy, cattle grazing, and butcheries) and occasionally felt belittled and demeaned over the years but I never felt I was being intentionally held back. I was angry at times but this gave me the drive to succeed in my chosen paths.
What would you change for women who want to run for public office in Australia?
Politics is an adversarial contest of ideas, and the public scrutiny can be intense. It’s important to be really clear on your reason for entering politics, and your political beliefs because they will be tested. Keep a broad network of family, friends, industry and community to stay connected. I would also encourage women to build their inner strength so they feel more confident handling the public spotlight and the adversarial nature of politics. It would be great if politics was easier, but in lieu of that, women should develop public speaking and debating skills, and seek advice from women already in the job who should be happy to nurture the next generation.