4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Jul 2012
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/07/2012
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FEDERAL PARLIAMENTARIANS (a)
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MINISTERS (a)
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CABINET MINISTERS (a)(b)
On 1 January 2012, 29% (66) of 226 federal parliamentarians were women. The proportion of federal parliamentarians who were women has risen by two percentage points since 2003, when there were 61 female federal parliamentarians out of a total 226 seats. In the federal government ministry, as at 1 January 2012, there were seven female ministers, including the Prime Minister, compared to 23 male ministers.
National life is influenced not just by tangible qualities such as economic output, health and education, but also by many intangible qualities such as the quality of our public life, the fairness of our society, the health of our democracy and the extent to which citizens of Australia participate actively in their communities or cooperate with one another. (Endnote 1)
One principle underpinning democratic government is that parliament should represent and express the will of the people. Parliamentarians therefore spend considerable time working with their constituents (Endnote 2). However, the legitimacy of parliament is further strengthened when its composition is seen to reflect all sections of the community. Since Australia's population comprises roughly equal numbers of males and females, an unequal representation of either gender in parliament may reduce the diversity of views expressed in the political process and influence outcomes regarding government policy and decision-making (Endnote 3).
On 1 January 2012, the proportion of members of the House of Representatives who were women was 25% (37 out of 150). This proportion is the same as in 2003. The proportion of senators who were women increased from 30% in 2003 to 38% in 2012 (up from 23 to 29 of the 76 senators). The proportion of parliamentarians in state governments who were women was 31% (182 out of 598) in 2012, slightly higher than the proportion of federal parliamentarians. The proportion of state parliamentarians who were women has increased by two percentage points since 2003 (up from 28% or 169 of the total of 598).
Federal and state government ministers
Gender equality in decision making positions is crucial in a democratic society. In the federal government ministry, as at 1 January 2012, there were seven female, compared to 23 male, federal government ministers. The number of federal government ministers who were female has increased from four in 2003. Of the six female federal government ministers in 2012, five were Cabinet ministers, compared to 17 male cabinet ministers. In 2003, only two of the 17 federal Cabinet ministers were woman.
As at 1 January 2012, 27% (32) of all the state/territory government ministers (119) were female compared to 25% (27 out of 109) in 2003.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2004, Year Book Australia, 2004, (cat. no. 1301.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Year Book Australia, 2009-10, (cat. no. 1301.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
3. Norris, P and Krook ML 2011, Gender equality in elected office: A six-step action plan, viewed 20 June 2012 <http://www.osce.org>
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