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International Women's Day 2015

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International Women's Day 2015

Posted 6/03/2015 by Hannah Gobbett

With the theme ‘Empowering Women - Empowering Humanity: Picture It!’, International

Women’s Day 2015 was celebrated internationally on 8 March with thousands of events to

mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. This Flagpost documents

the current state of play of female participation in Australian state and federal politics, and

how Australia compares internationally.

According to Australian Parliamentary Library data (as of February 2015) Australian

parliaments (Commonwealth and State) are 30.9 per cent female, compared to 29.4 per cent

in February 2014. The highest proportion of women is in the Victorian Parliament, which is

composed of 37.5 per cent women. The Commonwealth Parliament currently has 30.5 per

cent women, a decline from 31.4 per cent in February 2014.

2015 marks an important point for women in Australian state politics, with the Queensland

Labor cabinet being the first cabinet in Australian history to have a majority of female

ministers. Following the 31 January 2015 election, the 14-member cabinet has the first

elected female leadership team of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Jackie

Trad, with an additional six female ministers. The Queensland parliament (at February 2015)

is now 28.1 per cent female compared to 21.3 per cent at the same time last year.

In December 2014, the Abbott government had its first ministerial reshuffle, doubling the

number of women in the Liberal-National Coalition cabinet to two: Hon. Sussan Ley MP —

Minister for Health and Sport — joined the Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Julie Bishop MP.

The Government outer ministry includes an additional three women. The Opposition

currently has eleven women in the Shadow ministry: five in the cabinet and six in the outer


According to the International Parliamentary Union, Australia ranks 43rd internationally

(equal with Lesotho) in terms of the number of women in national parliaments. Australia has

a higher proportion of women in parliament than the United Kingdom (ranked 56) and the

United States (sharing number 72 with Panama). Rwanda — the first country to have a

majority female parliament in 2008 — has the highest proportion of female

parliamentarians, with women forming 51.2 per cent of the Parliament. Rwanda, Bolivia and

Andorra are the only countries with a majority of women in their parliaments.

However, it should be noted that political participation does not necessarily directly equate

with gender equality. The United Nations Development Programme Human Development

Report for 2015 (which measures levels human development) states that Norway has the

lowest human development inequality rank, closely followed by Australia in second place.

This index includes maternal mortality ratios, adolescent birth rates, seats in parliament,

secondary education rates and participation rates.

For further information regarding the history of International Women’s Day, please see

Harriet Spinks’ 2013 Parliamentary Library Flagpost publication, ‘International Women’s