Rachel Griffiths Urges More Aussie Women To Get Into Politics

rachel-griffiths

Remember that time former Australian Prime Minister (the country’s first female head of state) gave a rousing speech in Parliament about the misogyny that exists down under? No? Don’t worry, you can watch the full video by clicking here. What’s awesome is that she stood up to the “boys club” and wasn’t afraid of the media ramifications. And predictably, it happened. What’s sad is that the man who she specifically directed the speech at, the then leader of the opposition Tony Abbott, is now the Prime Minister of Australia, and clearly he has not been getting any respect from his fellow countrymen.

Gender equality has been a hot topic in many countries, including Australia, where the wage gap is said to be very dismal. According to a recent study, Australian men get paid an average of 17.1% more than Australian women.

The gender pay gap is the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings,” WGEA’s Clare Buttner explained. “The gap is currently 17.1% and has hovered between 15% and 18% for the past two decades. We also know there are pay gaps in favour of men in every industry and in all roles, including in female-dominated industries.”

And according to an official report on the percentage of women in Australian politics, there are only 29% of women in all Parliamentary positions, putting the country at “critical mass” level as outlined by the United Nations, who regard 30% as “the minimum level necessary for women to influence decision-making in parliament.”

So what is the solution to have greater female representation in politics, if they are needed to implement and present certain policies that will affect them? Aussie actress Rachel Griffiths, best known for her roles in ‘Brothers and Sisters’, ‘Six Feet Under’, and ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ recently returned to live in her home country with her family, and is gearing up to play Julia Gillard who was the head of the Labor party, in a made-for-TV movie called ‘Stalking Julia’.

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After doing much research about the state of females in Parliament, it opened up her eyes to the inequalities and barriers that women face. In an interview with the Sunday Style magazine she said Australia desperately needs more women at the top to be role models for other girls, so they in turn can grow up thinking of politics as a viable and important career.

“We need more women on top and our girls do need more strong role models,” she said.

“My daughter Adelaide said to me the other day ‘Why do they only show boys’ sports on television? It’s so annoying!’ And that’s out of the mouth of an eight-year-old!”

In the upcoming film, Rachel will portray Julia Gillard in her three controversial years as Prime Minister, and the role is based on the book ‘The Stalking of Julia Gillard: How the Media and Team Rudd Brought Down the Prime Minister’ by Kerry-Anne Walsh.

“I read an extraordinary survey that showed Australia was well down the list of best places to be a working woman. It was all empirical-it’s not my opinion. It’s based on pay, on promotion, on family-friendly policies, on some areas still being culturally anti-female.” she said.

Just to be clear, while there is evidence of bias between men and women, this is not just an issue where the men are to blame. Women have the power and the freedom these days to step up boldly and dismantle any “boys club” attitudes which prevail. Julia Gillard did it, and it was NOT easy for her. It is not easy for any woman being the first, but it means more women will be inspired to know it is possible.

rachel-griffiths

It is something Rachel is frustrated by, when she sees other women shying away from taking a chance in politics.

“I get cross that some very talented women I know who would’ve been brilliant in office have been approached and are consciously saying no.”

People don’t become politicians to be liked or to become popular. We all know it is a difficult and often controversial industry to work in. But people become politicians because they genuinely believe in change, and that is a gender neutral topic, by the way. Rachel has hit the nail on the head about representation, spurred by her daughter’s comments.

The more women can support each other, despite differences in opinions, beliefs, and lifestyles, the more we will feel the courage to step up when the masses are against us. It is an internal dialog as well as an external problem. Yes, the gender imbalance has to change, and men are absolutely part of that conversation. But where women can show the world we are capable is by proving others wrong, buoyed on by the support from each other.

We’re excited to see the Julia Gillard film, and hope Rachel can do her part in showing young Australian women and girls that the country needs them in key political positions. In the meantime, the Academy Award-nominated actress can be seen on the Australian TV series ‘House Husbands’ which is a fictional drama, not a reality series.

Take a look at Julia Gillard herself talking about her role as the first Prime Minister of Australia, and why it will be easier for the next woman who comes after her, which is exactly what makes representation so crucial.


 

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