A $5 million push to get more women running for office in Australia

A $5 million push to get more women running for office in Australia

The past year has seen a significant shift in Australian politics that has to a large extent been influenced by women putting their hands up to run for office. Now we could be set to see a lot more.

A consortium led by Women for Election (WFE) alongside gender-specialist organisations, has been awarded a $5 million federal grant over five years, to help increase the representation and diversity of women in public office.

Women for Election is non-partisan, with more than 2500 women across the political spectrum registering for events since 2019. A number of those women who’ve participated have gone on to launch campaigns or support the campaigns of other women, with some also being elected now at all levels of government.

As CEO Licia Heath tells Women’s Agenda following the NSW election over the weekend, at least two of the 20 WFE alumni that were running have been elected.

“I’m delighted to report that they all won because just by running, they’ve changed the conversation in their electorate. They’ve held others to a higher standard and inspired greater involvement of other women and girls to see themselves as future political leaders. These count as wins for Women for Election,” she said.

Forty-three alumni ran in last year’s Federal election. Heath said that while they aim to train women to win elections, they know that win or lose, in every contest that a woman stands, they help to shape the agenda and influence the outcome.

With this new grant, Women for Election will work with ANU’s Global Institute of Women’s Leadership, alongside Quantum Impact Group, Australian Local Government Women’s Associated, Politics in Colour and experienced trainer Ruth McGowan.

Their key goals are to leverage in-place training programs as well as an online virtual program and “campaign in your pocket” technology resources.

Women for Election aims to leverage the evidence that the more women and more diverse representation you have in office, the better the public policy outcomes.

“This program is an investment in strengthening our democracy. It’s vital that people from diverse communities can see themselves in their political representatives, that they feel they have a voice in the halls of power and decision-making and can readily maintain their faith in political institutions,” says Heath.

“Women for Election is elated that women’s political representation is a priority for the Australian Government. We’re committed to working constructively across the political spectrum, including with major and minor parties, independents and our Parliamentary Friendship Group, to ensure women have access to information and resources that support them to run for election.

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