A week out from the election, and I’d better say something about our first female Prime Minister just in case she doesn’t stay that way.
Congratulations, Julia Gillard. Although, unlike what seems to be the rest of the world, I am utterly uninterested in your hair colour, wardrobe and indeed femininity, and much more interested in whether you’d make a good Prime Minister – whether you can do the job. I just wish journalists and other politicians would think the same way I do – the country might run a bit better, then.
And while we’re on the subject, three cheers for Australia, smugly congratulating ourselves on being a world leader in having a female Head of Government. I suppose many of us were uncomfortably aware of Helen Clark in New Zealand. We might have explained that away by saying to ourselves: “She’s not a real woman, and New Zealand isn’t a real country”, both charges that could equally be levelled at Maggie Thatcher and England.
I love the Australian Way of being a world leader. Kevin Rudd exemplified it at a certain climate-change conference recently, when he said that we were world leaders in the field, and we’d lead by waiting to see what everyone else would do, then do the same as everyone else. In the same way, we are a World Leader regarding women in government. We are such an advanced country.
Let me see … We were beaten by Slovakia, who scraped a woman in by a couple of weeks before Julia. By Finland (June). By Trinidad and Tobago. By Krygyzstan. By Madagascar and Croatia, last year. By Iceland, one of my favourite countries. By Haiti and Moldovia, also last year. South Korea and Jamaica in 2007. Germany, the Ukraine and Macedonia. Mozambique, Peru and Senegal. Mongolia, Lithuania and Guyana. Bangladesh and Bulgaria. Rwanda, Burundi, Turkey, Canada and Poland. France, Pakistan, Lithuania and Yugoslavia. Norway, Domenica and Portugal. Not to mention the charismatic Mrs Gandhi in India. But preceding them all was Sri Lanka. As Australians, we like to consider ourselves superior, economically, socially and ethically, to many of the countries on that list. We like to believe we treat women well. I’m just so happy that, indeed, we are world leaders in following them by finally having a female in power. Congratulations.