Julia Gillard: Australia’s now former female Prime Minister

It has been of recent interest both in Australia and internationally regarding the ousting of the Prime Minister (now former), Julia Gillard.  Although Julia came to be the prime minister of Australia through non-voted means, her time has shown many successful policy implementations in the country including the advancement of education, disability care, and better environmental policies.  Through public polling and perhaps too much back-and-forth battling, Kevin Rudd has now resumed his initial Prime Minister seat.

Irrespective of the political decisions made within the country by both the government structures as well as by the people, I want to focus on Juila.  I also want to focus on the fact that Australia was able to see Julia, a woman, as a leader and a strong political figure.  She, like many great political women before her (e.g. Hillary Clinton, Margret Thatcher, Angela Merkel and etc.), fought hard for her country – but did she do enough to break down the barriers that women are faced with today?  Could policy have been changed to make things better?

What is that would really make women more accepted into society?  Is there such a thing?  Or will it be that we just need time and flattening of hierarchal structures that millenials continue to provide us with?  What does her removal of the prime minster’s seat and from politics mean for women in the future?

I have mulled through these sentiments for too much time.  I still don’t think that women are truly ready to accept themselves, but to also run aspects of this world in a way that can make society change its mind.  As women we are faced with many internal conflicts, some of which generate from societal bounds, but some of which we impose upon ourselves.  As women grow older we are faced with new questions.  How do we stay focused on our career?  How do we participate in relationships (friendships and partners)?  What is really important to each of us?  Some times things that we think are important (a career) takes a step down to an ailing parent, friends in need, the desire to build better communities as opposed to being wealthy.  And, if these things do begin to change us, why do we insist on playing in the world the way that men played before us?

I wish that Julia would have spent more time not on just empowering girls to grow up and become interesting and productive BUT to have put in policies that would have helped socieity to give these ladies some support.  The role of government is to realize what is best for its people and to build structures that incentivize people to change current societal rules.  And, because I hate vague suggestions, I will share with you what I would have liked to have seen.  Based on a ton of data, women tend to take a step back when they start having children (and perhaps before).  Why is this?  BECAUSE MAKING A BABY IS REALLY HARD WORK!  In the US women in the unskilled work force get 6 weeks.  I cannot imagine that a women’s body has even regained form by that time.  I digress.  Here in Australia women are afforded a considerable amount of time off (up to a year) BUT you still have to raise this child, and since we all can’t be like Marissa Mayer and build a nursery just next door to our office – we have to think how to change this.

It would have been great to see Julia build a plan that helps mothers and incentivizes fathers to be a part of their children’s lives.  That could have come in reduced/free childcare, forced paternity leave, greater flexibility in the days that we work (I mean, I could work a Saturday if I had to!).  Having babies is a BIG commitment and the role of the government is to help alleviate that burden on families and I think that women would fair better if they had the childcare support that they need.

It would be great to see this in the US, but since the policy in the US is far too conservative for such regulations to be imposed, I cannot see this being a likely phenomenon for decades to come (or perhaps more…).

A link to a NYT article on Julia Gillard HERE.