First, I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we are gathering, thank Aunty Di for her warm welcome to country, and pay my respects to elders past and present and to elders here with us this evening.
But also, as the first female Governor of Victoria, I am of course delighted to welcome so many prominent women to visit us here. The collective wisdom of this group will be well-received. As many of you are visiting from other countries, let me say just say a few words about Australia.
Almost half of all Australians were either born overseas or have one parent born overseas. I am one of them. My father came to Australia from Europe before I was born.
But I was never left in any doubt as to just how fortunate we were to be raised in this lucky country. Indeed, as an adult, I am fortified in that view. We have the good fortune of a strong system of government, a long democracy and respect for the rule of law. We have relative economic stability, good education and good public health. A richly diverse community. A magnificent island home.
And the Australian ethos of mateship that helps us to support each other. And yet, what an enigma it is that we have still not managed to come close to achieving equality for half of the Australian population. The female half. Now, I am conscious in this setting of an international conference that, just as women are faring better in some countries, they are also faring ificantly worse in others. But wherever our respective countries fit on a league table of parity, we have so much in common.
Women political leaders: advancing society
Whether it is for the right to be safe from violence, to be educated, to have control over our bodies and our lives, or it is for parity of pay, job opportunities and respect, we all continue to advocate for the basic human right of equality. Certainly, we have seen many waves of feminism across history. But is was neither the first nor the last time that feminism and equal rights have been firmly on the agenda. But STILL, in Australia, as in other countries to greater and lesser extents, women continue to experience ificant disadvantage.
In this country, we have had one female Governor-General and one female Prime Minister.
In Victoria, we have had one female Premier and one female Governor…. These, and many other ificant leadership positions, are still being counted in ones! The pay gap has not yet been conquered. And worse still, more than one woman is killed in an incident of family violence every fortnight in this country. Many more are injured, and one in four women have experienced at least one incident of violence at the hand of an intimate partner and we know that in some parts of the world, the figures are even more horrific. And yet, I am optimistic.
We are optimistic. We do see change.
They are the issues that, if set right, will liberate both our male and our female children, will ensure that our economy can prosper, and will enhance well-being within our communities. It is gratifying to see male champions of change: men who understand that diversity and parity are issues that belong to us all. But I still have no doubt as to the special role that women leaders can, and must play in a time of such transition.
Across six continents and 33 nations, the IWF provides a wonderful platform and community for more than 6, female leaders. How impressive that this conference brings together over such leaders, from over 30 countries around the globe. Each woman in this room has been hand selected. Each of you is recognised as a leader in your particular field.
Each of you is committed to leadership now, and to cultivating the women who will lead us tomorrow. Collectively, you can celebrate a multitude of successes, and reflect on unique challenges faced - and overcome. And collectively, you can effect change and influence local, national and international agendas on issues that matter the most.
The evolution of work, changing oceans, fake news, genetics, superannuation, biodiversity, art, geopolitics and sexual harassment. Thank you to each one of you.
Thank you for using your considerable expertise to talk on such important topics. Thank you for taking the time and the trouble to share your own stories.
And thank you for helping to ensure that the evolution of gender equality, so ardently sought for so long, is hastened. Thank you for giving other women hope and inspiration. To those from interstate and overseas, I hope that you will enjoy your time in beautiful Melbourne, and that at least some of your important discussions will be held in one of our many hundreds of cafes or restaurants, or strolling the magnificent gardens or avant-garde laneways that lie in the heart of our city.
Better still, hold longer discussions as you visit our wineries, spectacular coastline and the multitude of natural wonders further afield in regional Victoria!
Feature Image. Collectively, your might is enhanced. What a conference agenda! PDF Any comments? Leave this field blank.