Female voice still too quiet in politics

WHEN you have the unfortunate combination of being both young and female, it's hard to be anything other than disillusioned with Australian politics.

As a journalist and a consumer of news, I am regularly reminded that women in all spheres of leadership are often judged on their gender rather than their ability.

Who could forget former minister for the Status of Women Kate Ellis and the public lashing voters gave her for wearing bright-blue heels on a magazine cover? The MP was also told to cut her hair and invest in a pair of glasses to distract from the fact that she was, you guessed it, a young woman.

During a meet and greet with Federal MP Bob Katter several years ago, an older male voter definitively told me women weren't capable of leading. He didn't seem to notice, or care, that I was a woman.

More recently, serious missteps against young politically minded women have come from women themselves.

I cringed when old-school feminist Gloria Steinem suggested any young woman supporting US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton only did so to meet young men.

These kinds of incidents are a major reason behind the continuing lack of women in active political roles.

It is heartening to hear Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard, profiled on page 6, argue for greater participation from young women while recognising one of the root causes behind the lack of it.



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