How Australian women influenced the 2022 Election

| June 10, 2022

As the dust settles after the 2022 Federal election, we now move into a time of reflection on what it means to be Australian with the hope that representation matters.

On March 15, 2021, I marched with thousands of others across the nation to take a stand against the systemic and enduring abuse of women in Australia. Standing on the lawns of Parliament House, proudly displaying my homemade sign which read ‘He needs a mirror’ – a nod to our former Prime Minister Julia Gillard – I was angry.

The revelation that a former staffer had suffered alleged sexual abuse at the hands of her colleague inside Parliament House acted as a catalyst for this March4Justice.

Brittany Higgins addressed the rally, saying “We are all here today, not because we want to be here, because we have to be here”.

Simultaneously, the figurehead of the movement and sexual abuse survivor Grace Tame addressed the crowd of my hometown in Hobart.

Those of us gathered at Parliament House shared a collective sentiment; if this can occur inside the most important building in Australia, and be concealed by those we elected to represent our interests, what does that mean for the rest of us?

Female influence

The influence of the voices of women, particularly those of Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame, on this election cannot be underestimated.

Over 12 months later, the impact of the collective female voice is evident. This election saw a historic ‘Greenslide’ for the Green Party and an unprecedented victory for the all-female, climate-driven Teal Independents.

The Teal Independents, constitute a turning point in historically safe Liberal blue seats, whose constituents hold fiscally conservative views combined with increasingly ‘Green’ views on climate justice.

These returning and newly elected members of Parliament – Zali Steggal OAM, Dr Monique Ryan, Allegra Spender, Kylea Tink, Dr Sophie Scamps, Zoe Daniels, and Kate Chaney – represent a shift in the fabric of Australian politics. As a young woman watching this election, I cannot overemphasise the importance of the representation offered by capable, driven, and accomplished women in Parliament.

Such representation is not limited to the mainland. In my chilly, yet incredibly passionate home state of Tasmania, the Jacqui Lambie Network has garnered unwavering support with no signs of slowing.

The network represents a new wave of politicians; led by hardworking women who refuse to contort themselves to the mould of a traditional woman in politics or dull themselves down to a version deemed palatable for a woman with power.

Moreover, this election marks the appointment of a record number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives, the majority of which are women.

I grew up subconsciously absorbing the idea that politicians were men. In primary school I watched Prime Minister Julia Gillard be bullied and harassed by her colleagues and media. In high school, Prime Minister Tony Abbott was the self-appointed Minister for Women, and at university I protested the government’s ignorance and concealment of sexual violence within their own workplace.

Representation Matters

This is why representation matters. It is important that the next generation of girls and young women absorb the idea that women are represented, respected, and safe within the walls of Parliament House.

Of course, the election of a Labor Government will not magically fix the systemic and enduring discrimination against women in the home and workplace, but a record number of female and First Nations members in cabinet and government is an excellent place to start.