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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 662 ..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

by a diversity of styles and approaches. This applies to issues of governance. Any system dominated by a narrow spectrum of the community will always be limited in the extent to which the full range of interests and perspectives can be represented and progressed.

I do not know where I first heard it, but I remember hearing that concrete ramps were not put into footpaths until women started getting themselves elected to local councils. They realised it was an issue. They had a problem pushing their prams around. Once they were elected to councils, they started to do something about it. Of course that had flow-on effects for other people in the community as well, not least those people confined to wheelchairs.

Across Australia, and to a lesser extent in the ACT, we are not capitalising on the potential benefits of the input and contributions of a diverse range of people, particularly women. Here in the ACT we should be proud of the level of participation of women in decision-making bodies and of the significant benefits to our community resulting from this. I hope all of the speeches here today will reflect that.

International Women's Day provides us with an opportunity to recognise the contributions of women in their roles as decision-makers in our community. It is also an opportunity for all of us to commit to continuing to lead the way towards a society in which all decision-making bodies at all levels are inclusive of, and truly reflect, the full diversity of our community.

MS DUNDAS (4.26): Mr Deputy Speaker, I am glad that Ms MacDonald has raised this matter of public importance today. I had also prepared a matter of public importance which was similar, but not exactly the same, as Ms MacDonald's, and I am glad that there is a number of us who are keen to discuss the importance of women today, especially as International Women's Day is to be held this Saturday.

I must say that I am very proud that this Assembly, with the election of Ms Burke, now has the highest proportion of women members of any parliament in Australia. That is definitely something to be very proud of. We also have the first female Minister for Women in the ACT since the resignation of Kate Carnell, and I congratulate Ms Gallagher on her appointment. I am aware of her commitment to women's issues, and I hope that she receives the support she deserves in furthering the position of women here in Canberra.

Women have been essential to the creation and progression of human civilisations since the dawn of time, but throughout thousands of years of development women have always been treated as junior partners at best, and at worst they have been mere slaves and subjugated by the will of men.

International Women's Day is a time for women and men to come together to celebrate the achievement of women, as well as work together to work for the equality of women, locally and around the world. International Women's Day provides a spotlight on the continuing violence, poverty and discrimination that women suffer and provides a space for government, business and the community to collectively find solutions to the problems that women face.

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