Lismore City Councilors Ros Irwin (left) and Jenny Dowell.
Lismore City Councilors Ros Irwin (left) and Jenny Dowell. DAVID NIELSEN

First female G-G advances Australia fair

AUSTRALIA has come along way from being a male dominated domain but it has taken more than a century.

The announcement that we are to get our first female Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, marked a milestone for Australian women. But according to Lismore Councillor Ros Irwin there is still along way to go.

Cr Ros Irwin, along with Cr Jenny Dowell, is encouraging women to stand for the local government elections in September.

"Around 26 percent of councillors are women and this figure has not changed for some time, it's a long way short of what it should be," said Cr Irwin.

Cr Irwin and Cr Dowell have been holding seminars for everyday women who may be considering a career in politics. Cr Irwin, who has been a councillor for 17 years, will not stand in September's election but is hoping a young woman will take her place.

"I am not suggesting that women should replace men in government but we need a balance. Women have a stronger sense of community and local governments need more of that," she said.

Cr Irwin said Australia was still behind other countries when it came to electing female leaders.

"We need a mix of people whether it is from a lower socio-economic background or a different gender," she said.

Liberal Party MLC Catherine Cusack said this was the opportunity to advance Australia fair.

"Ms Bryce is proof that you can enter the fray and not have to turn into a man in order to achieve great things," she said.

Ms Cusack said for a country which was one of the first to give women the vote, a lack of female leaders in 107 years as a nation shows 'we are still not as smart and fair as we should be', she said.

The NSW Australian Local Government Women's Association (ALGWA) has published a booklet of stories about women in local government to encourage other women to stand for election.

Cr Dowell is hoping women will read these stories and feel capable and inspired to do the same.

"So many women say, 'Oh I couldn't do what you're doing', but they're often the kind of women we need" she said.

Contact Cr Dowell on 0402 651 394.

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