INDEPENDENT Julia Banks, South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and Liberal candidate for Higgins, Dr Katie Allen, will headline Future Women’s #HerVote event in Melbourne on May 10.
In the wake of slut-shaming, claims of bullying and a fall in the number of women in parliament, #HerVote was launched to help inform Australian women’s opinions ahead of the May 18 poll.
#HerVote is the bipartisan campaign of Future Women, a club of professional women launched last year by Nine Digital Content Director and former editor-in-chief of The Australian Women’s Weekly, Helen McCabe.
The campaign with the tag line “elevating her voice, informing her opinion” follows growing activism about improving female representation, with Women for Election Australia launching a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for training programs for potential female candidates.
Over the past decade Australia has fallen from 15th to 51st place in the world on gender representation in federal parliament, and Australia’s female politicians are now pushing the charge for a diverse parliament with better representation of the wider community.
Former lawyer Julia Banks was at the centre of bullying allegations before she quit the Liberal Party to run as an independent and take on Minister for Health, Greg Hunt.
The youngest woman ever elected to federal parliament, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, has led the campaign against slut-shaming after she was told to “stop shagging men” by Senator David Leyonhjelm.
Meanwhile, Dr Katie Allen is running for the seat being vacated by Kelly O’Dwyer, the Federal Minister for Women.
Also speaking at #HerVote in Melbourne is Labor candidate for Deakin, Shireen Morris, who is taking on Liberal Michael Sukkar who holds the seat with a 6 per cent margin.
Future Women founder Helen McCabe will host the Melbourne event at the National Gallery of Victoria alongside editor-at-large Jamila Rizvi, who previously worked for former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and a retiring former minister, Kate Ellis.
Rizvi and McCabe are passionate about encouraging women to take an interest in politics and improving the number of women prepared to run for office.
“HerVote is not about one side of politics or telling you how to vote. It is about encouraging interest and saying to women that if you want better outcomes on the issues of interest to them, the fastest way is to vote wisely,” McCabe said.
“Recently it has been a tough time for women in federal politics. The reduced numbers of women in the parliament is worrying, and there have also been some disturbing examples of slut-shaming, allegations of bullying, and the departure of key MPs who have chosen to walk away in their prime.
“HerVote is a rare chance for voters in Melbourne to hear directly from some of the most talented female candidates running for office.”
Rizvi said Australian women were clearly buoyed by what they have seen in the US mid-term elections, with the number of female candidates this year up 50 per cent on the 2010 campaign.
“For too long Australian politics has been seen as the domain of men. Diversity only in the colour or print of yet another man’s tie isn’t enough for Australian women anymore,” she said.
“Ready or not, women candidates and voters are about to change Australia for the better and Future Women will be cheering them on.”
The first #HerVote event took place last month in Sydney, headlined by Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek, Liberal Minister Sussan Ley and independent candidate Zali Steggall.
The Melbourne event, a week out from the poll, is expected to attract a broad range of women interested in knowing more about gender and politics.