Julie Bishop may not be a feminist, but she’s happy to take some time out of her busy schedule to do her bit for gender equality in Australia. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, joined other female politicians and executives on Wednesday, in welcoming three of our leaders of tomorrow to the nation’s capital.
The winners of Country to Canberra’s inaugural essay competition on gender equality, Libby O’Brien, 16, from Beaudesert in Queensland, Nullamanna’s Hannah Worsley, 17, and Vesna Clark, 16, from Mittagong, both in New South Wales, were invited to attend a ‘power trip’ in Canberra.
The three teenagers jumped at the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the country’s most powerful women at a “Powerful Women’s Breakfast” held at Farmers Daughter in Yarralumla. In attendance were ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, Federal Member for Canberra Gai Brodtmann, the highest female executive at the Department of Defence Rebecca Skinner, and the Deputy Australian Public Service Commissioner Stephanie Foster.
Later, the girls attended a special lunch at Parliament House, co-sponsored by Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash, Senator Anne Ruston, Senator Jan McLucas and Senator Lee Rhiannon. But the highlight of the day was meeting Australia’s first female Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, after Question Time.
Founded by Hannah Wandel with the assistance of a Great Ydeas Grant from YWCA Canberra, Country to Canberra provides opportunities for young women in rural communities throughout Australia, to meet and learn from female politicians and other female leaders working in the nation’s capital.
Hannah Wandel says Country to Canberra aims to bridge the gap between rural areas and the nation’s capital, connecting girls to mentors, and motivating more young women to become leaders in their local communities.
“Taking into account Australia’s 18.2% gender pay gap, and considering just 30.5% of federal politicians are female, it’s clear girls face more barriers to success,” said Hannah. “Distance, time and funds can also isolate rural females from education and career opportunities. Country to Canberra gives these students a helping hand.”
When asked to comment about her trip to Canberra, Libby O’Brien said, “As a young woman about to leave school, Country to Canberra’s ‘power trip’ has been incredibly inspiring. The lessons learned will really help me forge a successful career.”