The 2022 Election Outcome Is A Step Forward For Diversity, But There’s Still A Long Way To Go

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An overwhelming story to come out of the 2022 election is one of women, and how they have absolutely stormed the election as candidates and as voters at the ballot box.

This is only the second time in history that women have made up more than one-third of federal politicians — and that’s including in the senate, where they’re absolutely cleaning up.

And perhaps these much needed changes are a result of people listening to the public debate on issues of gender equity, gender based violence and harassment, and under-representation of women in senior positions, in the lead up to election.

What Went Down Over The Weekend For Women Candidates

There were some huge wins for the election outcome.

For the first time in history the 2022 election saw 10 First Nations candidates elected to Federal parliament, most of whom are women. Linda Burney became the first female Aboriginal woman elected to the House of Representatives as Indigenous Affairs Minister. And both of the Northern Territory’s Senate spots are expected to be won by Indigenous women for the first time ever.

As for the independent female candidates —well they absolutely cleaned up over the weekend. In a historical moment, Independent Monique Ryan defeated outgoing Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in the blue-ribbon seat of Kooyong Victoria.

Independent Dai Le in Fowler NSW beat Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally, who was put forward for the south-west Sydney seat despite having zero connections to the community.

Independant Kylea Tink in North Sydney took out Liberal Trent Zimmerman — a seat that was considered a safe Liberal seat. As well as a win for Independent Allegra Spender who defeated Liberal Dave Sharma in Wentworth, NSW.

Unpacking The “Women’s” Vote Being The Decider Of The Election

The women’s vote for this federal election was undeniably powerful, but author and associate professor Camilla Nelson points out that the diversity that has come from this year’s polls is what we should be focusing on instead.

“The women’s vote had a huge impact but that vote went everywhere and that’s the important thing to watch that the women’s vote is a diverse vote,” associate professor in Media at the University of Notre Dame, Camilla Nelson said.

“You can’t just say that the teal candidates — which are a sort of a white metropolitan middle class, the kinds of women that once upon a time might have run for the liberal party themselves – you can’t say that’s all women and certainly you can’t ignore the kind of messaging that comes with things like Dai Le winning in Fowler against Kristina Keneally,” she argued.

That thread of messaging that Camilla is talking about is that of women being lumped together as the deciders of this election, when no two women are the same and that kind of messaging isn’t afforded to men.

“Remember men also voted for women at this election as well,” she said.

Camilla believed that grouping women together as this “single monolithic special interest group” does women a tremendous disservice.

“Women don’t agree on everything and that’s a good thing. It means that the debate’s more robust and that you are hearing more from all sides. So I think that diversity is one of the big messages that needs to be taken away from the vote”.

It is independent winners like Dai Le, who sit outside the teal group – referring to Independents that hold liberal values whilst also wanting to see action on the climate.

Speaking to the ABC, Le said that hers is a grassroots community campaign and her community has very different needs to the electorates represented by the teal independents, who are generally in Australia’s wealthiest electorates.

Labor’s Plan For Gender Equality

Going into the polls, analysis by the Australian National Uni collected data from 3,587 Australians aged 18 and over and found that voters had less confidence in the two Coalition parties — Liberals and Nationals — when it came to gender equality issues.

There was more faith in Labor and The Greens to deliver on equal rights for women.

Labor has pledged to fully implement all the Respect@Work recommendations which came from Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, and to make a record 3 billion investment into women’s safety.

It also wants to put 10 days of domestic violence leave into the National Employment Standards and to make childcare cheaper to support women.Is

Now with Labor in government, the real challenge of supporting all women begins.