About our new Minister for Women, Kelly O'Dwyer

About our new Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has appointed Kelly O’Dwyer our new Minister for Women in his latest Cabinet reshuffle.

So can we expect O’Dwyer to do a better job than her predecessor, Senator Michaelia Cash?

The good news is that she is actually a woman. So she looks set to do a better job than Tony Abbott did in the role, prior to Cash.

And we reckon it won’t be hard to top Michaelia Cash’s record on women, given her apparent lack of interest in the portfolio.

Based on our previous experience with O’Dwyer, we believe she’s considerably more engaged in women’s issue than her two predecessors. Particularly given her previous record and comments on women’s issues, including support for targets.

She’s a former Freehills lawyer, NAB executive and political staffer to former treasurer Peter Costello, and was first elected to represent the people of Higgins following Costello’s retirement in 2009.

Since then she’s served as the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, and the Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer.

She founded the ‘Parliamentary Friends of Women in Science, maths and Engineering’, and serves as an Ovarian Cancer Ambassador.

She’s also personally demonstrated how to combine motherhood and a career in politics, having had her two young kids during her time in government. Her youngest was born earlier this year. While taking a six week maternity leave stint, media reports emerged that moves were underway to oust her from her seat (apparently common sense prevailed).

O’Dwyer’s previously been quoted as saying she believes Australian politics needs, “A number of strategies in order to encourage women to have the confidence to put up their hand for Parliament, to make sure that they’re supported and set up for success.”

And one such strategy, would be to use targets to “focus people’s mind on the fact that there are a lot of women of great merit who could make a wonderful contribution in the Parliament.”

O’Dwyer also spoke at an event we ran with Twitter back in 2015, in which she expressed her passion for female entrepreneurs, and shared a number of examples of women who started businesses from nothing.

She was also relatively early in supporting same-sex marriage, commenting back in 2013 that she was “comfortable” with the idea and that she was sure the Coalition would “evolve” to support it.

O’Dwyer was standing next to Turnbull during the election campaign last year when he twice declared himself a ‘feminist’. Although we haven’t yet found any evidence of O’Dwyer on record, calling herself a feminist. We’re still searching, and will ask the question when we first interview her.

In her maiden speech, O’Dwyer spoke about the changing nature of work and the new pressures such change is placing on families, including the difficulties of balancing parenting and careers. She said governments should not discriminate against the differing types of family arrangements and systems of care that are in place, and that businesses should be flexible in accommodating a wide range of employees.

She has previously spoken passionately about Malala Yousafzai, calling her ,”A true feminist, a warrior against the evils of real misogyny.”

Cash, along with Julie Bishop, have both rejected the feminist lable.

Congratulations Kelly O’Dwyer. We look forward to learning more about your plans in the role.

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