International Women's Day parliamentary breakfast

  • Speech

I too begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands we are meeting on today, the Ngunnawal people, and pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

I thank Aunty Violet for her welcome and wisdom, as always.

I thank UN Women Australia for hosting this event.

[Acknowledgments omitted]

It is a pleasure to be here again today. And I want to talk about why we are here. Why it matters to 'count women in.'

We are here because human rights apply equally to all people, no matter who you are or where you happen to be born.

And because the full realisation not just of human rights, but of humanity, requires gender equality.

This is not something we do simply as a matter of fairness or justice – though it is certainly that.

This is not just a "women's problem" that we pay lip service to once a year.

It is central to our interests. It's about accelerating progress.

We know that greater political and economic participation by women makes societies wealthier and more peaceful.

Australia is always better off if our region is more prosperous and more secure.

So as we advance our interests, we cannot quarantine policies that affect women from how we talk about foreign policy and strategic issues.

For anyone who isn't convinced, consider the implications of this fact.

We know that if we closed the gender gap in economic participation we would add at least twelve trillion US dollars a year to global GDP.

That's more than twelve times the size of the Australian economy.

Think about the dividend for our shared prosperity and our security.

As Foreign Minister, I have been clear that gender equality needs to be incorporated into our strategic agenda.

And part of our everyday work.

The Albanese Government's new Australian International Development Policy reinstated the requirement for 80% of development investments to incorporate gender equality.

And introduced a new requirement for investments over 3 million dollars to consider women and girls.

In practice, that requirement means when the Australian Government builds a market in the Pacific, we ensure it's safe and inclusive for women stallholders.

This should be the minimum standard. To remember that women are there too. To count women in.

The world is experiencing levels of conflict we haven't seen since the end of World War Two.

Whether in Ukraine, the Sahel, Myanmar or Middle East.

Women face increased sexual and gender-based violence and lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services.

Evidence suggests that women's participation is key to long lasting conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

When women participate and lead, fully and equally, peace agreements are more likely to last.

And, of course, the prosperity from greater participation is a further incentive for peace.

Australia has a proud history of bipartisan support for women and girls. A proud history of doing the right thing.

A proud history of supporting the Women Peace and Security Agenda and reporting against our progress.

But we can and should do more.

I am pleased to say that Australia will soon have a new international gender equality strategy to take our work forward.

This will affirm gender equality as a vital national interest – central to Australia's foreign policy, international development, humanitarian action, trade and security goals.

Because when space is made for women to succeed, they fill it, we fill it.

What's even more important, is to create space for others.

It's not an optional extra and it should be above the political fray.

It is central to our national interest.

I hope all of you join with me in working towards that objective.

Thank you.

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