Labor MP Kate Thwaites has issued a rallying cry to her colleagues in Parliament, urging them to “do their part” to make the environment safe for women.
At 33 weeks pregnant, Thwaites is just days from taking parental leave, but she says the events of the past few days have left her wondering whether women– of all ages– are actually welcome in politics.
You can read her speech below:
“Deputy Speaker, like many members of this House, I have the privilege of speaking with lots of primary school students who are learning about Parliament and about our democracy.
Almost every time I do this, I get asked by them about what it’s like to be a woman in Parliament.
I tell them that it is different to what it’s like for men, but that’s why it’s really important that women are here and are represented.
I’m always reassured by how many young girls are keen to be part of our democracy.
But this week, I worry that the message being sent from this place to young, middle aged and older women is not that they are welcome here.
And that a number of sensible women would look at what’s been reported and think this is not an environment they want to be part of.
And so I’m using this time to do a symbolic shout out that in some ways seems amazing that I still need to do in 2020.
I’m 33 weeks pregnant and I’m here.
Women should be in this place and we are in this place. We should be MPs and we should be staff.
And women should be safe in this place – particularly women working as staff.
It is clear from this week that we still have structural work to do to make sure that everyone who works here feels safe and is treated appropriately.
I know that on this side of the House, we have been doing this work, and that we are committed to doing more.
So that we do have the structures and the culture that means women want to work here, and are safe when they do so.
I urge every member of the House to do their part.”