Women of the Year

6 hero female politicians who are slowly (but surely!) changing gender norms in government

Go ladies!

Although women in politics have come a looong way (but, like, not too long — women only got the right to stand for parliament less than 100 years ago), they are still marginalised and dismissed in the arena of politics. Around the world — and in Australia — female politicians are constantly belittled, talked over and discounted by their male counterparts.

But that treatment is slowly but surely changing, thanks to our constant and powerful presence in parliament. And because of a few incredible ladies leading the charge, too, of course.

We're paying homage to the fierce and fabulous women instigating change in government — and doing it their way.

Penny Wong

Labor senator Penny Wong, who is recognised as the first openly-gay female politician in federal parliament, took a powerful stand on the floor this week when she delivered a speech trashing the plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

"This is a vote because some in the Coalition can never countenance equality, and they're never going to change their minds," she said on Wednesday. "They simply cannot countenance people like me, and others, being equal — simple as that. They're not going to change their minds on this issue."

"The Australian Christian Lobby described our children as 'the stolen generation'. We love our children, and I object — as does every person who cares about children and as do all those same-sex couples in this country who have kids — to being told that our children are a 'stolen generation'."

"You talk about unifying moments? That's not a unifying moment. It's exposing our children to that kind of hatred."

Larissa Waters

Although former Greens senator Larissa Waters was forced to step down last month when it was found out she unknowingly held a dual citizenship, she achieved some phenomenal things during her tenure. Larissa was known for being the first federal politician to breastfeed in parliament.

She famously breastfed her daughter, Alia, while moving a senate motion in June.

Tanya Plibersek

As Deputy Labor Leader, and Minister for Women, Tanya has been repping women in parliament for year. Our favourite moment in recent times? When she slammed former Prime Minister Tony Abbott as the 'Lord Voldemort' of the Liberal party.

"I saw the Prime Minister couldn't bring himself to say Tony Abbott's name," she said in July. "The Lord Voldemort of the Liberal Party is not the only problem that the Prime Minister has."

Gladys Berejiklian

As Australia's first Liberal Premier, Gladys Berejiklian has had to weather more than a few storms in her position. The NSW Premier most recently stuck it to the man when she shot down a reporter who asked her about having children as a politician.

"Take me as you see me," she said. "Not all of us can plan how our life turns out. I am a very happy person. If you asked me 20 years ago would my life look like this? It probably wouldn't be how it looks like. But I am grateful for the opportunities I have had."

"I also want to say again, not because I have to but because I want to, the closest people in my life are my family. I am not going to judge anybody on their personal circumstances. I am here to govern."

Nova Peris

Former Olympian Nova Peris made history as the first Indigenous woman elected to federal parliament. In her maiden speech in 2013, she made an emotional point about championing Indigenous rights.

"One of the four children who was taken and is here today is my mother, Joan Peris. She lived on the mission for eight years, she worked every day and never received a cent in pay," she told the senate. "Of course, we should never be forced to renounce our culture — our beliefs sustain our spirits — they nourish us; but at some levels they can restrain us, too. That is the collision point that confronts Aboriginal people."

"My duty now is to work hard and make a real difference."

Quentin Bryce

While she served as Governor-General of Australia between 2008 and 2014, Dame Quentin Bryce fought for women's right and shone light on families affected by domestic abuse.