Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History!

What a wonderful and accurate saying from Eleanor Roosevelt.  Thankfully we have many women playing major roles within The Greens and we'll leave it to you to decide if they are 'well behaved" or not.  They are certainly well known and it's rare these days not to see a female Greens face on our TV screens every day or so.

At a Federal level 5 of our 11 representatives are women. Lee Rhiannon tackling corruption in politics, Sarah Hanson-Young speaking up for refugees, Larissa Waters speaking up for the Great Barrier Reef, Rachel Siewert  advocating better services for pensioners or Janet Rice passionately speaking for the environment.

At NSW State level 4 of 8 representatives (not counting Lee Rhiannon as she represents NSW as a senator) are female. Jenny Leong representing Newtown in the Lower House, Tamara Smith, MP for Ballina and in the Upper House Dr Mehreen Faruqi and Jan Barham, from Byron Bay.

And don't forget our local Greens councillor Sally Townley. Champion of the Coffs Harbour rate payer.

 Then when you look at our local candidates for the soon-to-be-held Federal Election we have Carol Vernon representing Cowper and Kudra Falla Ricketts.

Candidate for Cowper, Carol Vernon, with inspirational lawyer, Lydia Shelley, at this year's International Women's Day breakfast in Coffs Harbour.

The Greens put on special events to encourage and develop women members.

Women's Camp is a special gathering of those Greens members who identify as women and will be held from Friday 13th May to Sunday 15th May. You'll find all you need if you click on this link Women's Camp.

Another event that has recently taken place was the Women's State Delegates Conference.  The State Delegates Conference (SDC) is the regular meeting of the NSW Greens where the business of running the Greens and deciding policies takes place.  Each year one of these meetings is specifically dedicated to women.  Our own Esmee Lane attended that SDC and here is her report.

The 2016 Women’s Greens State Delegates Meeting – Reflections of a ‘Newbie’. 
As I walked towards the Rex Centre in Kings Cross Sydney to attend the 2016 Women’s Greens State Delegates Council my mind was full of three things; firstly the fact that I am a single mother who’s children are seven hours away on a weekend, secondly the awareness that I have the responsibility to represent my group for the first time at such an event, and thirdly being able to represent as a women is not only necessary today but a hard won privilege that must be preserved. I pause to purchase a coffee at the early morning market outside my destination and work up the courage to enter; an old argument comes to mind that was given in Senate against women being afforded the right to vote, the quote goes:
"I feel that the introduction of political duties I put it that way into the ambit of their service in life is overloading them, and is certainly not promoting woman's destiny at its best"
Senate, 9 April 1902, p.11463.
Such reminders of sexism are only slightly necessary to feed my motivation and give me the confidence to continue into the building – most of the motivation is gathered from the endless newspapers littering the street in front of me that parade the male dominated politics from the same old two parties.
I enter; gather my ‘Coffs Harbour’ sign, voting sticks and nervously place them on my table. Guest speakers gave passionate perspectives from the indigenous side about the arguments for and against the recognition of Indigenous Australians within the constitution of Australia to a powerful address on everyday sexism in Australia. The under 18’s presented their issues of concern as climate change, stopping racism and support for voting age being lowered to 16 rather than 18 years. These kids really brought a much-needed breath of fresh air into the room and a perspective on why we are all here for the weekend, choosing to engage in the intricacies of policy making. Although little shaky at the responsibility of representing my group in the voting process I had a feeling of pride in the awareness that what I was being part of was representative of a true and transparent and democratic policy making process.

The second day was workshop intensive. Having the opportunity to interact within small group settings with female representatives such as Senator Lee Rhiannon, MP’s Jenny Leong, Tamara Smith as well as our state legislative council representative Mehreen Faruqi who were humbling and informative. Our representatives invested themselves in the process of mentoring and their willingness to be informed by the delegates. Overall it was an empowering and enlightening experience.  Esmee Lane.

Finally why not check out the Greens policy on Women  Not enough people know and understand our policies.  This one is an inspiring read headed up with Women have the right to equal participation in political, social, intellectual and economic decision-making processes.