Plan International CEO Susanne Legena has described Senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s defamation win against former Senator David Leyonhjelm as a sorely needed “watershed moment” for the fight to rid politics of sexism.
Hanson-Young’s defamation victory coincides with a new survey released by Plan International Australia, that found 90 per cent of girls and young women polled think female politicians are treated unfairly compared to their male counterparts. This compared to 37 per cent of young men surveyed.
Hanson-Young has been awarded $120,000 in her defamation battle against David Leyonhjelm, with the judge agreeing that his comments had attempted to “publicly shame” her.
“It’s deeply concerning but not surprising that most Australian girls think women politicians aren’t treated equally in this country, given the dreadful sexist behaviour they see in our Parliament,” said Legena.
Plan International’s research finds girls become increasingly cynical of sexism in politics as they grow older.
Three-quarters of young women say it’s harder for women to become politicians, compared to 57 per cent of young men. 77 per cent of young women think female politicians are treated unfairly by the media and also by their male counterparts, with 70 per cent agreeing this was the case.
67 per cent of young women say that female politicians are regularly talked over.
The survey also supports research from 2017, which found that not a single young woman surveyed wanted to become a politician.
“Is it any wonder why? Girls are growing up in Australia seeing women in politics, and in other public spaces, being judged on their looks, and belittled for their sexuality and gender,” says Legena.
“This is bad news for all of us, because it discourages girls from pursuing politics or other positions in the public eye, effectively pushing them out of public spaces and silencing their voices.”
👏👏👏👏 such a beautifully worded statement! Girls everywhere will see the outcome of this case and feel they can enter politics without fear of harassment and abuse. This is a historic moment for gender equality. https://t.co/tUxuLZb8FC
— Plan International Australia (@PlanAustralia) November 25, 2019
“We are sorry that Senator Hanson-Young had to relive the awful slurs thrown at her through this process, but the silver lining is that her bravery in confronting the person who perpetrated it head-on, sends a strong message that sexism must never be tolerated, in the Senate and out in the wider community.”
“That will mean a lot to girls watching at home.”
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will donate the $120,000 to Plan International and the Working Women’s Centre in South Australia.