I was so inspired by this speech by Senator Linda Reynolds that I thought I would share it with you.
“Thank you for the honour of allowing me to acknowledge my wonderful and inspirational colleague and role model, our Foreign Affairs Minister and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, Julie Bishop.
It is a privilege to be here today, amongst such a diverse and powerful group of women ahead of International Women’s Day this weekend – a day when we come together to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and now most importantly, the future.
Julie is a most worthy recipient of this prestigious Award – You show us all it is possible to be both a woman and a strong leader.
We all know Julie is simply an outstanding leader, in every sense of the word. As Barbara observed, Julie continues to push the boundaries in the political world both here and overseas, she is giving hope to women across all professions, hope that we can be effective leaders and make a difference – because we are women, not in spite of being a woman.
This week, in a major speech at the National Press Club, our own inimitable Senator Michaelia Cash, the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, reminded us, that our values as Australians are that women and men, are equal. However, this is simply not yet the case.
Earlier today, in this very room at the CME Women in Resources Awards, Terri from Rio Tinto reminded us of the importance of role models to inspire and motivate the young women she works with in the Pilbara.
All of us in this room know from our own personal experiences, the importance of having leadership role models that we can aspire to, and as Terri said, motivate us.
Sadly, we still do not have enough women in prominent leadership positions who are visible enough to provide a range of female leadership styles and examples. As Margeaux Janeko, a FIFO Hazardous Area electrician on Barrow Island said this morning as she accepted the Award for the Outstanding Trade Woman of the Year stated, you can’t be what you can’t see.
Having worked all my professional life in two highly masculine cultures, the Army and the Liberal Party, early on in both careers, I did not recognise female leaders or female leadership, there was simply no language or understanding of what we contribute as women.
I am sure I modeled myself in Army on the “effective leadership” models we were taught and on the behaviours I saw were rewarded in both workplaces.
I worked very hard not to be seen as a woman and believed that just by working hard and fitting into the culture I would succeed.
How wrong was I? I have since learnt that I have always been surrounded by amazing female leaders, who all have their own unique leadership styles and qualities. It came as quite a shock to realize that there was nothing wrong with me as a woman.
Nothing needed fixing, and I didn’t need to hide from who I was – a woman. It took me a long time, but I have finally found my voice as a woman, and as a leader, and it is a wonderful and peaceful place to be. Julie Bishop has been a great supporter and friend, and she is certainly an inspirational role model for me personally.
In fact, Julie reminds me of Dame Elizabeth Couchman, President of the Australian National Women’s League and a founder of the Liberal Party 70 years ago this year. Dame Elizabeth once said her concerns were not for the battle-some female who talks of sex war, but for women who put public good before personal ambition.
Despite her extraordinary abilities and achievements, Dame Elizabeth never realized her goal of election to the Federal Parliament. Robert Menzies said of her that she would have been the best Cabinet Minister I could have wished for and that she was the greatest statesman of them all.
Dame Elizabeth demonstrated to both men and women of her era, that it was possible to be both a woman and a successful leader. Just as Julie Bishop does today.
Unlike Dame Elizabeth and so many other amazing women, fortunately, Julie was pre-selected, elected today and she is a beacon of hope and inspiration to so many men and women.
Congratulations on this Award Julie, it is richly deserved.
I too pledge my support for this campaign, my vision is for a world without violence and discrimination against women and girls. A world where young girls, wherever they live, can be who they want to be and live free of fear and poverty.
Lets work together to kiss it goodbye!”
Senator Linda Reynolds at the International Women’s Day Lunch hosted by Momentum Forum, Perth. Friday 6 March 2015.