Natasha Stott Despoja has been elected to the UN committee on the elimination of discrimination against women (CEDAW), marking the first time Australia will serve on the committee in almost three decades.
Stott Despoja will become only the second Australian to serve on the UN committee, a body of 23 independent experts who monitor the progress of the UN member states’ efforts to eliminate discrimination against women.
Australia’s first female federal court judge, Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC, was a member of CEDAW from 1984.
Australia has won a #CEDAW seat! My heartfelt thanks to many, especially @MarisePayne for championing this bid & to wonderful civil society. I thank Member States for their votes. I pledge to serve with independence, diligence & compassion. It’s an honor to follow Elizabeth Evatt— Natasha Stott Despoja (@NStottDespoja) November 9, 2020
Stott Despoja was selected for one of the 11 CEDAW positions, vying for election against 21 other candidates from across the globe. She will serve as the only expert on the committee from the Oceania region.
Stott Despoja is a long-time advocate for gender equality, and has had a varied career across politics, diplomacy and advocacy, always with a focus on the prevention of discrimination and violence against women and girls.
At the age of 26, Stott Despoja began a career in parliament, serving as federal Senator for South Australia from 1995 to 2008. She became the youngest woman to ever sit in Australian parliament and went on to serve as Leader of Australian Democrats, a centrist party. As a Senator, she tabled Australia’s first paid maternity leave bill.
Stott Despoja is also the Founding Chair of Our Watch, a national organisation working to end discrimination and violence against women and their children. As Chair, she oversaw the establishment of a national framework for the prevention of violence against women, the first of its kind.
She was previously Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, and is a former member of the UN High Level Working Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents.
In 2018, she was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world on gender equality.
Ready to vote in this morning’s #CEDAW elections at #UNHQ.— Ambassador Mitch Fifield 🇦🇺 (@AustraliaUN) November 9, 2020
🇦🇺Australia’s CEDAW candidate @NStottDespoja has very much appreciated the opportunity to meet with delegations throughout her campaign – thank you to all States Parties for their consideration of our candidate. pic.twitter.com/819SUrMPp8
Australia’s Minister for Women, Marise Payne, nominated Stott Despoja for the position on CEDAW, and has since congratulation her on the election.
“I congratulate Ms Natasha Stott Despoja AO on her election to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women,” Payne said in a statement.
Payne said Stott Despoja’s candidacy and election to the committee “builds on Australia’s global leadership in advancing women’s rights and demonstrates Australia’s commitment to eliminating discrimination against women and girls in Australia and globally.”
In August, Stott Despoja delivered a National Press Club address on the emergency of domestic and family violence in Australia. She expressed concern about the pandemic’s impacts on women’s economic situation, and spoke about gender inequality as a key driver of domestic violence.
If you or someone you know is in need of help due to family and domestic violence contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
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