Despite the significant social change and pursuit of gender equality that has occurred over the last fifty years, female engagement in politics, including within the Liberal Party, has not moved as quickly. Equal gender representation at all levels of the Liberal Party (administrative, professional, and parliamentary) is yet to be achieved. The Menzies Research Centre report Gender and Politics highlighted a significant gap in female representation in the Liberal Party, with 42% female membership across Australia. Within the Young Liberals in 2015, this figure was 29%. This strategy seeks to overcome any institutional hurdles and encourage engagement within our movement of more women.
I am appreciative of the work put in by my predecessor, Claire Chandler, in developing this strategy and am pleased that she is continuing to lead this important work. I encourage any Young Liberals with input or suggestions to make contact with the Federal Movement.
As a Federal Movement, we want to ensure that we lead the way in supporting young women who share our values to be active contributors within the Young Liberals. Our women already make a valuable contribution to our political process and our Party, and our aim is to put in place the necessary processes to better recruit, engage with, nurture and encourage even more women across our membership.
Following extensive consultation with Young Liberal Divisions around Australia and a working group of Young Liberal Women and Male Champions, the Young Liberal Movement of Australia will undertake the following key actions to achieve this goal:
Establish the Women's Engagement Committee as a sub-committee of the Movement's Federal Executive to drive cultural change and champion gender diversity within the Movement.
This Committee should be charged with responsibility to promote a culture within the Movement that is welcoming and supportive to women to assist them to be strong contributors to our movement and to our cause. This will also assist Young Liberal women to run for leadership positions but also to seek other offices, including preselections. The Committee will consist of the following:
- The Federal President of the Movement,
- The Federal Vice President of the Movement, and
- One male and one female representative of each Division, with one of these two representatives preferably a current or former Divisional President.
The Committee will be co-chaired by the Federal President of the Movement. and another member of the Committee with the intention that one of the co-chairs will be male and the other will be female. The Committee will meet at least twice each year and report to the Movement Executive through the Federal President of the Movement. Also through the President, the activities and ongoing work of the Committee should be reported to the senior party Federal Executive and the Movement's Federal Council..
The current Federal President is Mr Aiden Depiazzi and the current co-chair is Ms Claire Chandler.
Establish the Young Liberal Women's Network to connect young women across Divisions to share and discuss relevant issues and promote the achievements of female members.
This Network will seek to provide opportunities for non-active Young Liberal Women to become engaged with the party and our values. This should include exploring new ways to engage with members who may not be able to attend a standard event for example, by teleconference or other electronic means. There may be potential to expand this beyond the Young Liberals to also include female members between the ages of 30 and 40. The Network can evolve to provide regular communications via email, and should ideally promote the initiatives established both within Divisions and at the federal level to engage with women.
Ensure the Federal Executive is in receipt of regular information in order to mark progress.
The Federal Movement Executive should receive six monthly reports on information similar to that provided in the Menzies Research Centre report broken down by states. The regular presentation of information will assist the Movement Executive to identify both problems and success stories as well as offer the opportunity to share learnings across state borders.
Host regular women-specific events.
These events need not be "women only", but may focus on issues relevant to women, or host a female guest speaker. In holding these events, Divisions should make particular effort to market them to female members and promote them as initiatives designed to specifically engage with women.
Establish a Women's Mentoring Program between Young Liberals and the senior party / parliamentary wing.
This should be catered to the needs and resources available within each Division and may initially focus on members volunteering to take part. Pairing Young Liberals with female mentors in the senior Party will allow them not only to share experiences and grow a broader network within the Party, but also provide young women with greater support as they develop and become more active as members.
To ensure that the Strategy is having a positive effect and to assess its implementation, a Post Implementation Review will be conducted 12 months after the commencement of the Strategy.
Information about the Strategy and updates will be published online at www.youngliberal.org.au/women.
Ratified by Young Liberal Federal Executive on 21 December 2016