Last Friday Alan Jones once again proved he is a man stuck in times past.
While the women of the world are working hard to address some of the world’s biggest social issues of our time, he has again proven his main contribution to society is misogyny and naysaying.
Responding to an announcement that the Australian Government will invest aid dollars in a Pacific women’s leadership program, Alan Jones’ inferred that Australia shouldn’t support women’s representation in politics... because we’re ‘destroying the joint’.
Women have lead some of the most important political reforms of our generation, and their equal involvement is crucial to continued economic and social progress.
To see the impact of women in politics you need look only to Liberia: where women lead a peace movement that overthrew a dictator and ended a 14 year civil war, and where a female President invested in peace and nation building that cleared $4.9 billion of debt, increased the country’s budget by almost 4 times and earned her the Nobel Peace prize.
Or Egypt where women helped lead the freedom movement which toppled a dictator and demanded their right to meaningful political participation.
And whatever one's political leaning, no one can doubt the impact and dominant political force of Margaret Thatcher .
Around the world women have shown, and continue to show exactly what they are capable of. And investment in women - and women’s participation in business and political leadership - is exactly what we need to address some of the world’s biggest problems, particularly extreme poverty.
The Government’s investment in women’s leadership is exciting news. AusAid has noted that an increase in women’s representation in parliament actually reduces corruption and increases economic growth in the Pacific.
This is exactly what our foreign aid should be doing: building the foundations for a society to trade and effectively govern its way out of poverty.
Leading diplomat, Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan hit the nail on the head when he said “there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women ”.
And the world’s richest man, Bill Gates, agrees: “if you’re not fully utilizing half the talent in the country...you’re not going to get too close to the top ten .”
Thankfully not all men adopt the same passé mindset of Alan Jones . Men and Women alike have acknowledged the powerful role of women’s participation in politics and leadership.
Powerful and successful women have certainly not been held back by those that wish to hark back to destructive paradigms of the past . Their success and effective political participation has always been the ultimate weapon against the naysayers.
To Alan Jones, I think that the old idiom applies: “those who say we can’t change the world should get out of the way of people already doing it”.
To those who’d like to join those leading the way forward, I invite you to join me in congratulating Julia Gillard on her decision to invest in women’s leadership. You can add your name to our thank you card here.