It was announced this morning that Australia has its first woman Prime Minister; Julia Gillard. I tweeted that politics aside, I like the fact that a woman is running the country. I like that fact that the party she belongs to think she has the chops to win an election and the chops to run the country.
But three years ago Segolene Royal contested the 2007 French presidential election. She was asked who would look after her 4 children?
Julia Gillard asked whether the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, Peter Costello, could have been mothers and held their positions for more than 10 years.
“The frank answer is no“, said Julia Gillard.
In May 2007 Liberal Senator Bill Heffernen said that Julia Gillard is not qualified to lead the country because she is deliberately “barren”.
Julia Gillard right hit back the next day branding him a man of the past.
But here we are today with Julia Gillard being promoted to leader of the Australian Labor Party and by default Prime Minister of Australia.
Is it a win for feminism? Yes? If Pauline Hanson ever made it to the top job would that be a win for feminism? Theoretically yes, but definitely not a win for progressive thought.
Below is a post I wrote on my other blog titled Could I Possibly Be Prime Minister? Click on the link to read the comments.
Well could I? Apart from the usual qualifications and experience one needs to lead a nation, could I, a mother, become Prime Minister of Australia?
Julia Gillard, Labor’s Deputy Leader, doesn’t think it’s likely.
Ms Gillard has thrown the topic up for discussion; would John Howard or Peter Costello have held their jobs for as long as they have or even at all if they were mothers instead of fathers.
Before I had children I would have been jumping up and down accusing her of re-enforcing the much hated glass ceiling syndrome but now that I’ve had children…well…what can I say….my whole perspective on it has changed.
I am all for supporting women who want to work and raise a family, after all who am I to judge? Let’s face it; these women are keeping the issue of working conditions for mothers at the fore.
But for me my world changed when I became a mother and going out to work just didn’t hold the same appeal for me as it did in the past. I knew within myself that home is where I wanted to be and I just wouldn’t be the employee that I would be required to be. Not while my children are young.
But is that what Julia Gillard is driving at? Mothers can’t help but have their attention diverted from the task at hand, more so than fathers? Or is the question more of a societal truth? Mothers just don’t get the top jobs.
If this is the case, then why?
Nice work, PM (Perfect Mum).
I totally agree that long standing politicians wouldnt have held the jobs for so long if they were mothers… I also think that is as it should be. It is a high demand job and I would feel sad for kids who’s mums were away a lot.
I have heard a lot that her childlessness is irrelevant but I disagree. I think a parent (of either sex) would make a better leader as they are more in tune with what normal Australians want/need. Perhaps Julia Gillard’s priorities will not reflect the priorities of the rest of us?
Have any other PMs been childless?
What if the father became the primary care giver?
And as for Julia being in tune with mothers one leader can’t be everything to everyone. That’s why there is an entire party to do the job.
I don’t know if other PM’s have been childless. It’s like saying how does a PM make wartime decisions if they have never served on the frontline.
What is normal in Australia? So many more households are childless these days. So many more households have blended families or single parents. Households are made up of migrants, refugees, blue collar and white collar workers; first generation Australians, 6th generation Australians. Heterosexual and homosexual partners exist. Large families, small families. Tertiary trained or secondary school trained. The variations are endless.
The thing about politics is that one leader doesn’t ever property reflect the priorities of the voting public. I don’t think I have every found a leader or party that properly reflected me, but I choose what comes closest.
When Tony Abbott earlier this year was quoted as saying that ironing was for the housewife that sentiment certainly does not reflect me in any way shape or form. But I can vote against him and the Liberals if I choose, that’s the beauty of it.
Julia will have her day in court soon enough too.
Love & stuff
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The Mum’s I know do more with less time than any other group, because they have to.
Sounds like a pretty good quality in a PM.
And she’ll probably send a whole lot of people to time out too 😉
The person that fills the position of PM should be someone that has the skills, intelligence, experience and qualifications to fill the role. Children or no children…male or female….without these 4 important qualities, anyone would/will fail in this role. But, if a mother of 4 children, with a great support base and the qualifications to fill the role should want to, why shouldn’t she have a go? Isn’t that the Australian way?
Mrs M, I always LOVE reading anything you have written. Always intelligent and thought provoking. Thanks!
Leanne you’re a darling. This whole debate about Julia has given more food for thought and another post is coming.
Yes, Australians do always harp on about ‘having a go’. Good on the Labor Party for having a go and putting a woman in charge.
The interesting thing here is that while Kevin Rudd has been galavanting all over the globe, Ms Gillard was in fact in charge of the country. We haven’t fallen into a heap.
Love & stuff
I was very tired when I wrote that post and now that I re read it makes me sounds as if I am from the 50’s… This, M is why I should not write… I cannot eloquently express myself!!
Good luck to Julia, I honestly dont think she will see out the election though… From everything I have seen, most people arent keen.
As for Julia running the country while Kevin is away, This is why I also dont think anything will change… She had just as much to do with this governments decisions as Mr Rudd!
Terrific, thought-provoking post. When I heard JG say that, I nodded my head in agreement (PM and motherhood both being such enormous jobs it would be hard to do both well), without thinking about the flipside of the coin. I think Mia Freedman wrote a great piece about this earlier in the year, wondering where her ambition had gone. Something about having children makes ambition difficult to hold onto. It’s as though it’s a one-dimensional deal and when you add too many other ingredients to the mix it just fades away.
Which is not to say that it disappears. I still have ambition but I need to realise it in a different way if I’m going to be the mother I want to be. And I have definite ideas about the kind of mother I want to be.
JG clearly has definite ideas about a lot of things too. She’s just chosen a different direction.
Sorry for the late reply Allison. But you’ve hit the nail on the head. Ambition doesn’t go away. It just goes a different way.
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I didn’t know you back when you first wrote this, Maria.. I thought similar things at the time. I wondered if it was possible. Like yourself, going out to work doesn’t have the same appeal to me now that I’m a mum. I certainly don’t know if I’d have the time to fully devote to my job (especially a high powered one like PM), let alone my family. Bottom line is I couldn’t do it to my family. It’s not how I would choose to have them grow up. 🙂 Good questions Maria! xx
It’s hard isn’t? I’m all for championing a mum who wants to be PM but I couldn’t do it.
Having said that, today I’ve been teaching my 2 year old how to take turns. “Mummy’s turn, your turn. Mummy’s turn, your turn”. Save me. 😉
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