JOURNALIST: Okay. Well Julie, what do you make of everyone being asked to wear a touch of red tonight in a show of solidarity towards you and I guess the treatment of women in Australian politics?
JULIE BISHOP: I’m deeply honoured that the organisers thought it appropriate to ask the participants to wear a splash of red. I think it might hark back to the red shoes I wore on the day I resigned as Foreign Minister! But it’s wonderful to see so many women of all ages and backgrounds, coming together for this new media platform that Helen McCabe has started. And what I think is – wonderful – and will be much sought after for women who want to be together, who want to support each other, and hear some stories about other women’s journey through life.
JOURNALIST: Were the red shoes a protest, or did you mean to make a statement when you wore them?
JULIE BISHOP: I think the photographer made much more of it than I had anticipated.
JOURNALIST: It’s nice that it has, in some ways, been picked up as a bit of a movement. On 17 September, we saw almost all the women in Parliament wearing red; is this a bit of a movement, do you think?
JULIE BISHOP: I’ve used that red shoe emoji on many occasions to denote a female point of view, and so I think that the red shoe could become quite a symbol. But, it is all about women coming together, supporting each other, sharing information, sharing advice, sharing experiences.
JOURNALIST: To see so many women in Parliament wearing red, and now coming out and saying that, you know, they’re calling out bullying or the treatment of women, saying it needs to improve; what do you think about that? Do you think we do need to improve the way we treat women in politics?
JULIE BISHOP: I believe we need to see more women in politics. There needs to be a critical mass, so that we can change the culture, we can change the environment. And I hope that we can inspire more women through Future Women – this program – and others to take more of a role in public life and into public office. And I want to help that movement of more women in politics. We will get better outcomes, better quality of debate, I believe, and more representative outcomes.
JOURNALIST: At the moment, how difficult is it to be a woman in politics or in the Liberal Party?
JULIE BISHOP: I have been in the party for 20 years and I have loved every moment of my career, and I hope to do more in public life. So, I would encourage women to work with other women, to work with men, to encourage women to take part. There’s no point in us saying “we need more women in Parliament”. We actually have to do something about it, and I hope that initiatives like this can go some way to solving that.
JOURNALIST: Future Women is all about bringing women together and also pushing for that equality; how do you think we’re going in Australia, as a whole, on this, and how can we improve it?
JULIE BISHOP: Clearly, we have a way to go. I don’t believe any nation has achieved gender equality. And, I have often said that no nation will reach its potential unless it engages with and harnesses fully the talents, skills, ideas, and energy of the 50 per cent of the population that is female – well, in Australia’s case, the 51 per cent.
JOURNALIST: So, how can we do that and how can we bring more women into politics?
JULIE BISHOP: It is about building a talent pool to ensure that there are women who are interested in politics, interested in joining the party – not necessarily with a view to becoming an elected representative – but being part of the most successful political movement in Australia’s history. And that is the Liberal Party.
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