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Women are gaining but more work to be done: Palaszczuk

Politics

Annastacia Palaszczuk has warned that “inequality is out there, inequality is real,” and women must take action to ensure girls have a brighter future.

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Having recently celebrated five years as premier, Palasczuk used a speech at the United Nations International Women’s Day Breakfast in Brisbane to call for continued leadership to reduce discrimination and inequality.

Palaszczuk, Queensland’s second female premier after former Labor colleague Anna Bligh, also took the opportunity to reflect on the achievements of her government.

“Twenty years ago I’d walk into a room in government and there’d be all men sitting around the table,” she said.

“I walk into rooms now and I might have three or four of my ministers – because we have 50 per cent women in our Cabinet – and we can have a meeting where it is entirely women. And I sit back sometimes and I think ‘that is great change’.

“I don’t think anywhere else in Australia do we have that level of equality being demonstrated at the highest levels of office of the cabinet that runs this state.”

In Queensland, there are women now serving as police commissioner (Katarina Carroll) and chief justice (Catherine Holmes), and other prominent roles, including, it should be noted, Opposition leader (Deb Frecklington).

But Palaszczuk made clear that women in leadership roles had to push for equality to achieve generational change, and pointed to the Labor government’s ongoing efforts in education, training and workplace relations.

“When I became Premier, just 31 per cent of women were on Queensland government boards,” she said, addressing a room of mostly women but with a message for men as well.

“In October last year, we reached our 50 per cent target, and Minister (for Women) Di Farmer informed Cabinet just yesterday that we are now at 52 per cent of women on boards. That’s a pretty good achievement. “

Palaszczuk pointed to the wage gap in some industries, the male-dominated workplaces, and even sportswomen being denied change rooms as evidence that more work needed to be done. She also started her speech by remembering Camp Hill woman Hannah Clarke and her three children, whose deaths at the hands of a man “left our state and our nation incredibly sad, shaken and appalled”.

“Our work never stops until the violence stops,” Palaszczuk said.

Last week, the Government’s Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council met for the first time, and a broader summit is planned for the coming weeks.

“We know that reform never ends, and we have to continue on our march to stamp out domestic and family violence,” she said.

“Fundamentally, equality starts at home, it starts in the schools and it starts in our workplace. We all have to be respectful of one another.”

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