Writing by Sinead Simpkins // Photograph by Chiara Cappetta
When I was in my second year of university, I decided to join Young Labor – a youth wing within the Australian Labor Party. I joined because I looked up to numerous female leaders such as Julia Gillard, the first female Prime Minister of Australia and Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Opposition Leader in Federal Parliament. I agree with most of their policies, and if I do disagree with them, I do try and contribute to our annual conference to change a certain policy. As a young woman in any political sphere, it is hard to actually be taken seriously or actually want to take part in politics. In the three years I have been in this organisation, I have had my fair share of both positive and negative experiences.
While the negative experiences of being a woman participating in politics can be horrible, I do try and look at the positives. I believe in the importance of participation in politics. I attend my local branch meetings once a month which is all the local members in your area to discuss policies and generate discussion about the current political climate in Australia. I also attend Young Labor events which are all individuals under the age of 26 who are members of the party. I hear a range of policy ideas and gain an understanding of different viewpoints. From my own personal experience, the movement is incredibly supportive of young women. There is an implementation of affirmative action where at least half of the positions must go to women, whether it is behind the scenes or participating in local, state or federal parliament or councils. I am currently participating in an initiative that the NSW Labor Women’s Network of being mentored. I am gaining an understanding about areas that I am not sure of and as well as being fostered in a political organisation by fantastic senior party women.
Although there is a long way to go with women’s rights and experiences–whether it is social or political–I do try and be a role model in advocating women’s participation. I do believe, especially with women in Australian politics, there is little diversity. We need more representation of what Australian women actually look like. We need more women from Indiginous and Torres Strait Islander communities, culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and those who are in the LGBTIQA+ community. We need more women who are like Linda Burney (first Aboriginal women in the House of Representatives) or Penny Wong (senator who is part of the LGBTQIA community).
So I encourage any woman who has an interest in politics to sign up to a party that you most identify with and get involved, let your voice be heard!![share]