Friday, 5 September 2008

New Governor General takes Australia forward towards true gender equality

The swearing in today of Ms Quentin Bryce as Australia’s 25th Governor General, is an historic day for the nation and one which augurs well for our journey towards true gender equality in Australia, federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said today.

“I congratulate Quentin Bryce on a truly remarkable day in which Australia swears in its first female Governor General,” Commissioner Broderick said.

“The occasion sends a much needed signal to Australians – young and old – of the strength, determination and innovation that women bring to leadership positions in this country.”

Ms Broderick said Ms Bryce’s achievements throughout her career could be contrasted with the startling reality still confronted every day regarding the current gender inequality in leadership positions in Australia.

“In 2008, we still have a long way to go when you consider that, in 2006, women still only made up 8.7 per cent of board directorships of the top 200 companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange,” Commissioner Broderick said.

“Despite comprising more than half the Australian population, women still make up only 25 per cent of members of the House of Representatives in the Australian Parliament and only 13 per cent of the Federal Court bench.

“A female Governor General sends a message we all need to hear – especially now at the beginning of the 21st Century when our nation’s progress in achieving substantive gender equality has stalled,” she said.

“This is a wonderful recognition of Ms Bryce’s visionary and inclusive leadership style and signals to young women in particular that true gender equality in Australia is not a pipe dream but a real and tangible goal.

“I am particularly excited by the breadth of experience in human rights, social justice and discrimination that the new Governor General brings to her appointment and look forward to seeing how this is reflected in the performance of her duties.”

Media contact: Louise McDermott (02) 9284 9851 or 0419 258 597