Dubbed “the end of an era” by opposition leader Bill Shorten, Julie Bishop will end her career as a member of the Liberal Party just ahead of the March election.
A champion for equal representation and women’s issues, Bishop served as a minister in John Howard’s government before becoming deputy leader in 2007. She was the first female foreign minister, and the first woman to contest a leadership ballot of the Liberal party in its 75-year history.
Oddly enough, it was Bishop’s choice of dress that caught the eye of many during her resignation speech. Perfectly composed Bishop, dressed in all white, stood out solidly amongst the blue and black suits of her male colleagues, which many believe wasn’t a coincidence.
It was observed by the Guardian (and many others) that white is the colour of the suffragette movement, the colour worn by political women in America earlier this month to Donald Trump’s state of the union address.
Whatever side of politics you sit on, the resignation of Julie Bishop is a huge loss to Australian parliament, particularly in regards to equality and in communicating women’s issues. The more women there are in parliament, the more issues that greatly concern women are addressed, such as gender-based violence and issues of workplace inequality.
Keeping the next generation engaged with politics has always been a challenge, but if they cannot look to parliament and find strong female role models, it becomes difficult to encourage women to run for office. Australia is already ranked 50th in the world for female parliamentary representation.
In order to change the nature of politics and encourage more women to run for office, we need strong women to champion the cause and change the conversation from within.